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Lalani of the Distant Sea
Cover of Lalani of the Distant Sea
Lalani of the Distant Sea
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"Fast-paced and full of wonder, this is a powerful, gripping must-read."—Kirkus (starred review)

"A lush and mysterious fable, full of beauty, full of wonder."—Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal–winning author of When You Reach Me

Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly's debut fantasy novel is a gorgeous, literary adventure about bravery, friendship, self-reliance, and the choice between accepting fate or forging your own path.

When Lalani Sarita's mother falls ill with an incurable disease, Lalani embarks on a dangerous journey across the sea in the hope of safeguarding her own future. Inspired by Filipino folklore, this engrossing fantasy is for readers who loved Grace Lin's Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Disney's Moana.

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. And what does the future hold for young girls? Chores and more chores.

When Lalani Sarita's mother falls gravely ill, twelve-year-old Lalani faces an impossible task—she must 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 an ordinary girl survive the epic tests of the archipelago? And how will she manage without Veyda, her best friend?

Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly's debut fantasy novel is inspired by Filipino folklore and is an unforgettable coming-of-age story about friendship, courage, and identity. Perfect for fans of Lauren Wolk's Beyond the Bright Sea and Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

"Fast-paced and full of wonder, this is a powerful, gripping must-read."—Kirkus (starred review)

"A lush and mysterious fable, full of beauty, full of wonder."—Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal–winning author of When You Reach Me

Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly's debut fantasy novel is a gorgeous, literary adventure about bravery, friendship, self-reliance, and the choice between accepting fate or forging your own path.

When Lalani Sarita's mother falls ill with an incurable disease, Lalani embarks on a dangerous journey across the sea in the hope of safeguarding her own future. Inspired by Filipino folklore, this engrossing fantasy is for readers who loved Grace Lin's Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Disney's Moana.

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. And what does the future hold for young girls? Chores and more chores.

When Lalani Sarita's mother falls gravely ill, twelve-year-old Lalani faces an impossible task—she must 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 an ordinary girl survive the epic tests of the archipelago? And how will she manage without Veyda, her best friend?

Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly's debut fantasy novel is inspired by Filipino folklore and is an unforgettable coming-of-age story about friendship, courage, and identity. Perfect for fans of Lauren Wolk's Beyond the Bright Sea and Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

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Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.4
  • Lexile:
    600
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    2 - 3

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly was awarded the Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe. Erin Entrada Kelly's debut novel, Blackbird Fly, was a Kirkus Best Book, a School Library Journal Best Book, an ALSC Notable Book, and an Asian/Pacific American Literature Honor Book. She is also the author of The Land of Forgotten Girls, winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and You Go First, a New York Times bestseller, Spring 2018 Indie Next Pick, Kirkus Best Book, and School Library Journal Best Book. She grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and now lives in Delaware. www.erinentradakelly.com

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 27, 2019
    A fantasy inspired by Filipino folklore, this vibrant story by Newbery Medalist Entrada (Hello, Universe) follows Lalani Sarita, 12, on her harrowing quest to save her mother and her island, Sanlagita, from the horrible fates for which they seem destined. When Lalani’s father perished after being selected to sail to Mount Isa, “where all of life’s good fortunes were said to be,” Lalani and her mother were forced to live with her frightening uncle and his cruel son. Now, with her mother ill and her island suffering from a drought that has killed off medicinal plants, Lalani faces an impossible quest: sailing across the sea that has taken the lives of countless men, including her father, in search of something that might heal her mother and reveal what’s really beyond their small island home. Entrada intersperses second-person narratives that describe the mountain’s many fantastical creatures (“Imagine you are a weeping loset”), weaving adventure and magic into the story. Unlikely but determined heroine Lalani is lovably loyal, kind-hearted, and optimistic even as she faces unspeakable dangers, and her relentless spirit makes her a worthy protagonist in this triumphant tale about fighting for the people one loves and staying true to oneself. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties.

  • Kirkus

    July 1, 2019
    A young girl goes on an epic journey across the sea. Twelve-year-old Lalani Sarita lives on the fictional island of Sanlagita, where people say benedictions to the foreboding Mount Kahna and dream of sailing to paradise on Mount Isa. But sailors who journey to Isa never return. When a strange creature on Mount Kahna grants Lalani a wish, she discovers magic comes with a price. After her mother falls ill, the villagers turn on her, and with everything in ruins, she runs away in search of Isa and the flower that might save everyone. Along the way, she encounters creatures and plants, some friendly and some deadly. Lalani must overcome many hardships and challenges to create her own path. Inspired by Filipino folktales, Newbery Medalist Kelly (Hello, Universe, 2017) writes a heroic fantasy about making choices, going on a quest, and conquering evil. Though the tale is told primarily in the third person, characters develop deeply through revealed thoughts and actions. Each character adds another layer to the story, all facing their own issues, such as finding courage, patriarchy, and gender roles. Scattered throughout the novel are short, beautifully illustrated second-person vignettes allowing readers to imagine they are the mythical creatures Lalani encounters, adding yet another layer of depth and fantasy to the story. Fast-paced and full of wonder, this is a powerful, gripping must-read. (Fantasy. 9-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from August 1, 2019

    Gr 5-8-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. VERDICT A first purchase where books such as Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moon are popular.-Heidi Grange, Summit Elementary School, Smithfield, UT

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • —Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me "A lush and mysterious fable, full of beauty, full of wonder."
  • Soman Chainani, author of The School for Good and Evil series "With lyricism and elegance, Erin Entrada Kelly weaves a rich tale. Powerful and gripping."
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Erin Entrada Kelly
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