Kiki Kallira Conquers a Curse

­Listening Library. (Kiki Kallira: Bk. 2). May 2022. 633p. $56. ISBN 9780593589083.
Gr 4-8–Indian-born British actor Zenia Starr returns to narrate the second volume of Mandanna’s Hindu mythology-inspired series, featuring now 12-year-old Kiki whose artistic prowess can engender whole worlds. To read both titles in order (Kiki debuted in Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom), of course, is best, but Mandanna expertly provides enough background to warrant a standalone adventure. Back in London, Mum doesn’t know yet that Kiki created a magical kingdom (based on Mum’s mythic Indian storytelling!) then saved the universe—until magical Pip pops out of Kiki’s sketchbook. Kiki’s being summoned; destruction looms again. Intertwined with the thrilling exploits are deftly inserted details about confronting and treating mental health challenges.
VERDICT While the majority of Starr’s performance provides fast-paced entertainment, certain choices fail; voicing twin sisters while seemingly holding her nose proves to be an especially clumsy misstep.

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