Sisters of the Neversea

Heartdrum. Jun. 2021. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062869975.
Gr 4-7–Lily Roberts, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, and white Wendy Darling are stepsisters who share many things (including a younger brother, Michael), but they find themselves at odds over the their parents’ impending separation. As Wendy reads to Michael the night before she leaves, they are interrupted by a braggart boy, Peter, and his fairy friend, Belle. Peter wants a storyteller, and Wendy, always in love with fantasy, agrees to go (with Michael) by fairy dust to Neverland. Lily, always scientific, rejects this boy at first, especially after he calls her a derogatory name for Native Americans, but she listens to his errant shadow and follows it to Neverland to save her sister and brother from Peter. Thus begins a wondrous story skillfully hung on the framework of Peter Pan, but Smith makes it all her delightful own. A member of the Muscogee Creek Nation herself, she subverts the flaws of the original story into strengths, while firmly rooting her fantasy in realistic character development. Peter is a tyrant and a menace to Neverland; Wendy and Lily are strong heroines, each with her own challenges to overcome. Smith also weaves meaning into the large supporting cast of Native kids, Lost Boys, Merfolk, Fairies, and Pirates, perfectly pitching her tone for the middle reader set.
VERDICT Full of fantastic storytelling, thrills, and humor, this book is a recommended purchase for all upper elementary and early middle school collections.

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