The Way to Rio Luna

Scholastic. Jun. 2020. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338239546.
Gr 3-6–Danny Monteverde has survived the foster care system because of his brave older sister, Pili; their mysterious book of fairy tales, The Way to Rio Luna; and his unshakable belief in magic. But when Pili disappears from her group home and is presumed a runaway, and his foster father throws away his beloved book, Danny’s world begins to crumble. This is a classic portal fantasy, a portrait of childhood resilience, and an ode to kids who “have hearts that love and souls that are kind and minds that believe.” Córdova infuses Danny’s quest and the magical world of Rio Luna with friendship, whimsy, and boundless creativity, from the shrewd Moon Witch and dramatic Jackalope Prince to an adventure that spans New York City, Ecuador, Brazil, and Northern Ireland. Original fairy tales feel ancient alongside references to Neverland and Narnia; the result is a revised canon of children’s fantasy literature to center a global mythology, heralded by children of color. Although the plot rushes toward an abrupt ending, readers will eagerly await the next installment.
VERDICT With its diverse, fully-realized cast of characters and inventive world-building, this complex adventure quest is a rare treat for fantasy lovers and those who believe in magic.

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