Book Title: Lalani of the Distant Sea (available here)
Author: Erin Entrada Kelly
Illustrator: Lian Cho
Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Publication Date: Jan 2020
Most Suitable For: Year 5/6
Reviewed By: Claire Coates, Headteacher
Lalani of the Distant Sea begins with a map of Sanlagita; to one side the sharp lines of Mount Kahna loom down and to the other, across the Veiled Sea, a more mysterious and seemingly gentler island of curves and woodlands, Isa. Between them is the village of Sangalita with its traditional houses, shipbuilders and farmland.
As you read the first chapter, you realise that the benign appearance of Isa on the map is far from the truth and that the Veiled Sea holds many stories of sailors who have lost their lives trying to navigate across this small stretch of water. This is the backdrop to Lalani’s story and her quest to prove herself and support her family, after her mother becomes ill.
The book draws you into the world of Lalani and immerses you in the Filipino folklore at the heart of this book. It is at once exciting and tragic - perfect for adventure-loving children.
The female protagonist could be compared with Crow from ‘Beyond the Bright Sea’ by Lauren Wolk or Mara from ‘To the Edge of the World’ by Julia Green as all have their island heritage at the centre of their personalities and all have a fearsome spirit that inspires the reader. It would make an exciting and engaging class novel and would compliment topics that look at world folklore or the Asian continent.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Claire for reviewing it.
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