Journey Across the Hidden Islands

352p. Clarion. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544706798.
Gr 4–6—Twin sisters Ji-Lin and Seika have been training for two very different roles, which they will assume on their 12th birthday. Ji-Lin has trained as a protector/warrior, and Seika is preparing to be the future ruler of the land currently led by her father, the emperor. As in any good fantasy novel, there is a dragon. In this story, the dragon is a guardian of the kingdom, to whom homage must be paid on a regular basis. When the girls are reunited after a year's time, they must embark upon a journey to pay tribute to the kingdom's dragon guardian. The sisters run into many obstacles and conflicts along the way. The author does a skillful job of world-building early on. Vivid descriptions and spot-on dialogue help pull readers into the action. The ancillary characters are also enjoyable and move the story forward. These include key players Alejan, a winged lion, and Kirro, a boy the sisters meet along the way. Readers will enjoy figuring out whether Kirro is friend or foe. The writing is accessible, and even reluctant readers will find the characters relatable and the tale engrossing.
VERDICT An additional purchase for collections in need of fantasy for tweens.

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