Crown. Mar. 2020. 304p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780553509670.
Gr 3-5–Sami’s Lebanese grandmother Sitti’s health is declining, and she is saying things that only Sami seems to understand. Sami’s father has died, and now her family wants to move Sitti into a home. But Sitti has always told Sami stories of magic, and the young girl believes that, with that magic, she can change things. When Sami falls through the old mirror in her room, she finds Silverworld. Believing that if she can save Silverworld from the invasive Shadow Queen Nixie, she can save Sitti, Sami embarks on a quest and finds she is more special than she ever thought. While this world is painted as a magical fantasy with dark Shadows, who talk and transform, and light Flickers, who have all colors of skin and hair, it feels rooted in reality. Readers may struggle to get lost in the magic. The book takes place in the modern world and has references to current issues, but lacks the depth to deliver a nuanced portrayal of the Bedouin and Arab cultures that are very much alive today, and not a romanticization limited to flowing clothes and golden headdresses. The occupants of Silverworld feel one-dimensional and inconsistent in a way that is distracting. There is also a lack of emotional intensity that these kinds of adventures usually elicit. While the author’s note emphasizes the importance of story and giving a voice to those trying to fit between cultures, there are other examples of this done much more successfully.
VERDICT Though this character gives a true meaning to the notion of living in two worlds, the story does not develop enough depth to make it a first purchase.

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