Lalani of the Distant Sea

By: Erin Entrada Kelly

Life is difficult on the island of Sanlagita. To the west looms a vengeful mountain, one that threatens to collapse and bury the village at any moment. To the north, a dangerous fog swallows sailors who dare to venture out, looking for a more hospitable land. The women live in fear of the deadly mender’s disease, spread by the sharp needles they use to repair the men’s fishing nets. And what does the future hold for young girls? Mending and more mending.

When Lalani Sarita’s mother pricks her finger and falls ill, she gives twelve-year-old Lalani an impossible task—leave Sanlagita and find the riches of the legendary Mount Isa, which towers on an island to the north. But generations of men and boys have died on the same quest—how can a timid young girl survive the epic tests of the archipelago? And how will she manage without Veyda, her best friend?

Black-and-white illustrations.

ISBN: 9780062747273

JLG Release: Nov 2019


Sensitive Areas: Violence
Topics: Villages , Gender roles , Adventure and adventurers , Friendship , Fantasy and magic , Emotions and feelings , Filipino folklore , Mythical animals

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Awards & Honors

Kirkus Best Books - 2019
Horn Book Fanfare - 2019
BooklistTop 10 SF/Fantasy & Horror for Youth – 2019

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Kirkus Reviews*, School Library Journal*, The Horn Book Magazine*, Booklist*, Publishers Weekly*

School Library Journal

Lalani Sarita must leave her home on Sanlagita Island in search of solutions to the struggles of her family and friends. After her mother falls ill and a devastating landslide wreaks havoc that leaves the island leaderless, Lalani feels responsible as she’s the one who approached their cursed mountain and wished for rain. She sets out to find the Lalani Sarita must leave her home on Sanlagita Island in search of solutions to the struggles of her family and friends. After her mother falls ill and a devastating landslide wreaks havoc that leaves the island leaderless, Lalani feels responsible as she’s the one who approached their cursed mountain and wished for rain. She sets out to find the island of Isa, which legend says will provide the help Sanlagita so desperately needs. But dozens of sailors have been sent to find Isa previously and never returned. After Lalani leaves, her friend Veyda and her brother Hetsbi, and the other islanders struggle to survive. Lalani has no idea the dangers she is up against just trying to cross the Veiled Sea, let alone what faces her should she reach Isa. But she’s determined to find help for her loved ones and make up for her mistakes—and her pure motives may just be enough to carry her through. Kelly’s beautifully rendered novel leaves readers with much to ponder. The tale has themes of good and evil, hope and despair, and finding the courage to bring change to old traditions. Lalani’s story is intertwined with the tales of those around her, human and creature alike. All of these eventually culminate into a journey illustrating the importance of story and the power of faith and hope. A first purchase where books such as Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon are popular.

Horn Book

Kelly turns from the contemporary realistic settings of the Newbery–winning Hello, Universe (rev. 3/17) and of You Go First (rev. 3/18) to a tropical island–set fantasy world. Lalani lives on Sanlagita, an isolated island where gender roles are strictly defined; life is under the control of an all-powerful menyoro; and sailors hol Kelly turns from the contemporary realistic settings of the Newbery–winning Hello, Universe (rev. 3/17) and of You Go First (rev. 3/18) to a tropical island–set fantasy world. Lalani lives on Sanlagita, an isolated island where gender roles are strictly defined; life is under the control of an all-powerful menyoro; and sailors hold the most esteemed positions in the village’s caste system, though tragically they leave in search of new lands and never return. When Lalani finds a foreign creature living on the island’s sacred mountain, she sets in motion a challenge to the menyoro’s authority, beginning with her departure from home. Over the course of her voyage, she encounters supernatural creatures, both allies and enemies, and brings about major changes to her world. Although Lalani is the protagonist, a strong cast of secondary characters, particularly her best friend Veyda and Veyda’s brother Hetsbi, are crucial to the story, making the novel more complex than a tale of an individual’s rebellion. Kelly does an excellent job of world-building, with folklore-like chapters interspersed throughout the story that both introduce the supernatural elements (“Imagine you’re an exquisite eel… You are Ditasa-Ulod. The water is your kingdom”) and build the book’s themes. The narrative voice keeps the tale firmly in its environment of magic and legends, maintaining the atmosphere of otherworldliness even as characters deal with bul¬lying, abuse of power, and other problems with clear resonance in the real world.

Book Details

ISBN

9780062747273

First Release

November 2019

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

8" x 6"

Page Count

400

Accelerated Reader

Level 4.4; Points: 7;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 0; Points: 0;

Lexile

Level 600L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Greenwillow Bks.

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Violence

Topics

Villages, Gender roles, Adventure and adventurers, Friendship, Fantasy and magic, Emotions and feelings, Filipino folklore, Mythical animals,

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