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Lalani of the Distant Sea

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There are stories of extraordinary children who are chosen from birth to complete great quests and conquer evil villains. This is no such story. Sometimes, you are an ordinary child. Sometimes, you have to choose yourself. This is the story of Lalani Sarita, a twelve-year-old girl who lives on the island of Sanlagita in the shadow of a vengeful mounta There are stories of extraordinary children who are chosen from birth to complete great quests and conquer evil villains. This is no such story. Sometimes, you are an ordinary child. Sometimes, you have to choose yourself. This is the story of Lalani Sarita, a twelve-year-old girl who lives on the island of Sanlagita in the shadow of a vengeful mountain. When she makes a fateful wish that endangers her already-vulnerable village, she sets out across the distant sea in search of life's good fortunes. Grown men have died making the same journey. What hope does an ordinary girl have? Inspired by Filipino folklore, Lalani of the Distant Sea introduces readers to a landscape of magical creatures, such as Bai-Vinca, the enormous birdwoman; Ditasa Ulod, part woman, part eel; the mindoren, a race of creatures modeled after the water buffalo; and the whenbo -- trees that eat the souls of the dead.


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There are stories of extraordinary children who are chosen from birth to complete great quests and conquer evil villains. This is no such story. Sometimes, you are an ordinary child. Sometimes, you have to choose yourself. This is the story of Lalani Sarita, a twelve-year-old girl who lives on the island of Sanlagita in the shadow of a vengeful mounta There are stories of extraordinary children who are chosen from birth to complete great quests and conquer evil villains. This is no such story. Sometimes, you are an ordinary child. Sometimes, you have to choose yourself. This is the story of Lalani Sarita, a twelve-year-old girl who lives on the island of Sanlagita in the shadow of a vengeful mountain. When she makes a fateful wish that endangers her already-vulnerable village, she sets out across the distant sea in search of life's good fortunes. Grown men have died making the same journey. What hope does an ordinary girl have? Inspired by Filipino folklore, Lalani of the Distant Sea introduces readers to a landscape of magical creatures, such as Bai-Vinca, the enormous birdwoman; Ditasa Ulod, part woman, part eel; the mindoren, a race of creatures modeled after the water buffalo; and the whenbo -- trees that eat the souls of the dead.

30 review for Lalani of the Distant Sea

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erin Kelly

    Hello, readers. I don't typically interact with my work on GoodReads, but several readers have asked for more information about the creatures in LALANI OF THE DISTANT SEA (which is such an incredible compliment and honor, by the way) so I wanted to share more about the folklore. The creatures in LALANI are inspired by Filipino folklore, but are not direct depictions of them. With some exceptions, they are largely (but not wholly) born of my imagination. To learn more about how Philipp Hello, readers. I don't typically interact with my work on GoodReads, but several readers have asked for more information about the creatures in LALANI OF THE DISTANT SEA (which is such an incredible compliment and honor, by the way) so I wanted to share more about the folklore. The creatures in LALANI are inspired by Filipino folklore, but are not direct depictions of them. With some exceptions, they are largely (but not wholly) born of my imagination. To learn more about how Philippine mythology influenced the creatures of Sanlagita and Isa, visit my resources page. To learn more about the rich and complex folklore of the Philippines and its creatures, I encourage you to visit the Aswang Project (www.aswangproject.com). The Aswang Project is an incredible resource, with comprehensive history, amazing illustrations, and endless stories. You will get lost in its dark and delicious archives. Thank you, as always, for reading.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lata

    I wish I were familiar with the myths and stories of the Philippines, for I think I would have appreciated better how Erin Entrada Kelly wove them into this story of an island village surrounded by a dangerous sea and the brave girl at its centre. There is drought on the island and fear and rituals aplenty amongst the villagers. Lalani is looked down upon by others, though she does have a few good friends. When her mother falls very ill, Lalani decides to find a way to heal her. She undergoes ma I wish I were familiar with the myths and stories of the Philippines, for I think I would have appreciated better how Erin Entrada Kelly wove them into this story of an island village surrounded by a dangerous sea and the brave girl at its centre. There is drought on the island and fear and rituals aplenty amongst the villagers. Lalani is looked down upon by others, though she does have a few good friends. When her mother falls very ill, Lalani decides to find a way to heal her. She undergoes many trials and travels far from her home, crossing the sea and encountering a variety of different beings. Lalani is resourceful and determined, and though she is often disheartened, keeps going. I liked this story, though I was mostly distracted the whole time I was listening to it. Not the story’s fault; just life. And even with my lack of knowledge about the myths and creatures integral to this tale, I liked its central character a lot. 3.5 stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Abby Johnson

    Wowza, this books packs a punch. In this fantasy novel based on Filipino folklore, ordinary kids turn out to do extraordinary things just by having good intentions and never giving up. This is a dark, rich, powerful story that verges on scary at times. I'd hand it to readers of The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill for a unique fantasy story with crazy good world building or readers of The Thickety by J.A. White who like a dark fantasy with strong heroines.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sai at theengineerisreading

    Have your ever read a book that connects so much to you it feels like it's seeing through your soul? In my case, Erin Entrada Kelly's MG fantasy debut, Lalani of the Distant Sea, will be THAT book. Because even though the narration did not clearly state that the story has Filipinx MCs and setting, the entirety of the storyline screams Filipino pride. First, let me just tell you that this book is rich with Filipino folklore and mythology so wonderfully reimagined, it will make yourself Have your ever read a book that connects so much to you it feels like it's seeing through your soul? In my case, Erin Entrada Kelly's MG fantasy debut, Lalani of the Distant Sea, will be THAT book. Because even though the narration did not clearly state that the story has Filipinx MCs and setting, the entirety of the storyline screams Filipino pride. First, let me just tell you that this book is rich with Filipino folklore and mythology so wonderfully reimagined, it will make yourself more interested to our own stories and legends. Revolving on the story of Lalani Sarita, a young Sanlagitan girl who always thinks outside of the box and loves stories of mysteries. When an overlong drought came upon the island of Sanlagita pestering both the people and their produce, people tried to make ends meet by making the most out of what's left in their village. But Lalani is different as she is a girl with a fresh perspective of the world. When an instance brought her along the footsteps of the forbidden lands of Mount Kahna, Lalani found the truth behind the darkness covering this clandestine landform. But with this comes a choice that pushed her to go beyond her limits and do what she think is best for her family and the rest of Sanlagita. The question is, will she make it out of the quest alive or will she be just like any other Sanlagitan men who tried before but never came back to their homeland? As powerful and imaginative as it is, Erin's Lalani of the Distant Sea easily became my most favorite book of the year. The fact that it features the best of the best of Philippine mythology and folklore is definitely something that excited me when I first heard about it last year and now that I finished a copy and will soon be released. I love how Erin reimagined most Filipino folk stories like the nunso (a wordplay for nuno sa punso) and Fei Diwata (Diwata means fairy in Filipino). There's also a lot of interesting tale characters in this like Ziva, the goyuk, Bai-Vinca, whenbos, the weeping loset, the Ditasa-Ulod, and the mindorens (which I imagine as tamaraws and mindoren must be derived from Mindoro?) If you want a fresh take on the Philippines old fables and folklores, this book should definitely be on your shelves. Another thing I love about this book is how it challenges the beauty of childhood thinking in a way that it inspires children and adults like me to always see the bigger picture in everything the way our MC, Lalani, does. The story delivered the notable Erin Kelly vibe which embodies her Filipino trait of being generous to others and being brave in times of desperation. Moving on, let me highlight another good point on this book which is the importance of making yourself go the distance. Lalani Sarita may be a simple girl in the outside but her brain holds more plans than anyone. She simply had the choice to just accept her fate as a Sanlagitan girl who will be either a mender or a farmer but she did not conform to the norm and instead did her best in forging her own path. This may be subtle but that takeaway tells a lot when it comes to taking the risk and doing things that we should do instead of just going with the flow and be a dead fish. I may not be able to translate all the things I love about this book but let me have this space to scream that this is how being represented feels like. Lastly, the illustrations in this book were exemplary and outstanding. Lian Cho's artwork served its purpose and added a clearer view to the picture being painted by Erin's words. And let me just commend Erin, Lian, and the rest of the Greenwillow team for bringing this book to the world. You guys deserved all the love. FUN FACT: When I finished the book, I had the time to chat with Erin since I defffff love this and I want to be a Sanlagitan. I asked her who is her inspiration in naming one of the Whenbos in Isa, Sai, and she confirmed that it's me because I met her last year when she's still finishing this book and I absolutely panicked and hell yeah, send a lot of hugs to her. Waaaaaah! RATING: 5 astonishing pahaalusk shells

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    The Girl Who Drank the Moon meets The Jumbies. So good!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Inspired by Filipino folklore Erin Entrada Kelly's new book Lalani of The Distant Sea will keep you reading late into the night - kids get your flashlights ready! This is a middle grade fantasy novel which follows the life and adventures of Lalani Sarita, a 12 year old girl, who may seem quite ordinary but when faced with danger she bravely goes on a quest that takes her to a legendary Island where she finds the courage and the tenacity to persevere. Kelly has a wonderful way of writing about ma Inspired by Filipino folklore Erin Entrada Kelly's new book Lalani of The Distant Sea will keep you reading late into the night - kids get your flashlights ready! This is a middle grade fantasy novel which follows the life and adventures of Lalani Sarita, a 12 year old girl, who may seem quite ordinary but when faced with danger she bravely goes on a quest that takes her to a legendary Island where she finds the courage and the tenacity to persevere. Kelly has a wonderful way of writing about marginalized kids and aligning them into remarkable friendships. You will love them, root for them and worry about them but their acts of kindness and quite strength will win your heart.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Blodeuedd Finland

    When it comes to fantasy then MG works so well, they are always nicer, not angsty, and it is always the ordinary ones that save the day. Lalani is an ordinary girl, not braver, not faster or anything else. She loves her mum, she loves stories and her friends. She lives on an island and all those on the island dream of another island that is better than theirs. So they send ships so find it, but no ships ever come back. The author draws from Filipino mythology, an When it comes to fantasy then MG works so well, they are always nicer, not angsty, and it is always the ordinary ones that save the day. Lalani is an ordinary girl, not braver, not faster or anything else. She loves her mum, she loves stories and her friends. She lives on an island and all those on the island dream of another island that is better than theirs. So they send ships so find it, but no ships ever come back. The author draws from Filipino mythology, and that is a real treat. The book does have a Moana feel as the whole young girl goes on a trip to save an island, but there it ends. I liked Lalani, I liked that she was nothing more, she was just a normal girl that wants to save her mother. She is as brave as we al can be if we just try. It is quite the adventure she has, and all in all this was a book that I enjoyed. Narration She did a great job with voices and the feel of the place.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mila

    The digital arc of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ website in exchange for an honest review. I loved the other two novels I've read by Erin Entrada Kelly but this one is probably my least favorite one so far. I still really enjoyed it though, I was simply not a fan of the way it was structured and the fantasy elements were quite confusing, in my opinion. It was still a great story with an uplifting message and a rich cultural background.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

    Don’t let the beautiful and bright colours of this cover fool you. This story is full of dark Filipino folklore + wonder—just what my heart needed. Adorned with gorgeous illustrations, each page is rife with magic and heart. I can't wait for Little Me to read this, it's so up her alley: magic, a little scary, an adventure, brave girls, and some creepy but fantastic creatures. This would make an AMAZING film. I could see it clearly in my mind the entire time I read. Think Pan's Labyrinth! In fact Don’t let the beautiful and bright colours of this cover fool you. This story is full of dark Filipino folklore + wonder—just what my heart needed. Adorned with gorgeous illustrations, each page is rife with magic and heart. I can't wait for Little Me to read this, it's so up her alley: magic, a little scary, an adventure, brave girls, and some creepy but fantastic creatures. This would make an AMAZING film. I could see it clearly in my mind the entire time I read. Think Pan's Labyrinth! In fact, if you love PL, this book is a perfect story for you. This book also has stories within its story. If you like fairy tales (the dark ones) and/or oral storytelling, please pick this one up!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mayra

    There are some books where you turn the last page and want to start reading all over again. There are some books that are puzzling yet throughout the reading you develop a trust it will all come together at the end. And it does. There are some books who have characters with traits you carry in your soul, but hide to the world. There are some unforgettable books. This is one of them. Read it. Trust it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    Where The Mountain Meets the Moon + Moana.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Books on Stereo

    Whimsical, ethereal writing coupled with a meandering plot made Lalani of the Distant Sea a chore to get through.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mikaela Prestowitz

    A beautiful blend of Moana, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, a hiiiint of City of Ember, and Kelly's distinct take on Filipino culture and mythology. If I'd read this when I was twelve, I can imagine it easily becoming my favorite book. Reading it now, I still adored Lalani, Sangalita, and Kelly's world-building but the ending felt too rushed to actually be satisfying. Still loved everything leading up to the end though! 4/5 stars

  14. 4 out of 5

    Candice

    Lyrically and wonderfully written. Stay with this one. The beginning felt so helpless and grim and unknown to me. But I was intrigued by the Filipino folklore, being a fan of folklore in general and unfamiliar with these creatures and stories, so I kept reading. I loved the chapters that gave the reader insight on the different creatures--the Weeping Loset and Ditasha-Vlod were favorites. Lalani's story of Anya with the shell made me tear up. The idea of an ordinary girl having th Lyrically and wonderfully written. Stay with this one. The beginning felt so helpless and grim and unknown to me. But I was intrigued by the Filipino folklore, being a fan of folklore in general and unfamiliar with these creatures and stories, so I kept reading. I loved the chapters that gave the reader insight on the different creatures--the Weeping Loset and Ditasha-Vlod were favorites. Lalani's story of Anya with the shell made me tear up. The idea of an ordinary girl having the courage to do something extraordinary--believing in herself and in hope--made this story amazing and un-put-down-able.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cara

    I loved this book and I cannot wait to buy it in hardcover when it comes out. High point of BookExpo for me was snagging a copy right at the end, when I thought I’d missed my chance. I hope someone decides to option this for film because it would be absolutely stupid not to. The end. :)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Eilis

    Really beautiful and original!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Ozanich

    3 1/2 stars I’m really torn. If I read this book for itself alone, with no outside influences, I really enjoyed and appreciated it. But, is is SO similar in so many ways to the Disney Moana story that I cannot rate it higher. How has this gotten so many raving reviews with that being overlooked? Girl’s tropical island home is suffering, she sets out on a journey, in a small boat with an animal companion, across a sea other’s cannot pass, to return a higher being’s treasure and save their is 3 1/2 stars I’m really torn. If I read this book for itself alone, with no outside influences, I really enjoyed and appreciated it. But, is is SO similar in so many ways to the Disney Moana story that I cannot rate it higher. How has this gotten so many raving reviews with that being overlooked? Girl’s tropical island home is suffering, she sets out on a journey, in a small boat with an animal companion, across a sea other’s cannot pass, to return a higher being’s treasure and save their island. Wow. There are elements to the story that are unique and creative, but I cannot get past everything about it that is Moana. I’m saddened by it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    DaNae

    I'm going to reread this. The audio and fable construct kept me at a distance. I never felt immersed with the characters, they often felt like vehicles to 'get the point across'. So many new terms and proper nouns were introduced it was difficult for me to keep them straight without the text in front of me.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    Perfection.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kathie

    Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book. Lalani of the Distant Sea is an engaging story about a girl on the island of Sanlagita desperate to change the future as she sees it. When her attempts to change the fate of her fellow townspeople go horribly awry, Lalani sets out to find a way to rewrite her destiny by journeying to Mount Isa across a sea from which no one has ever returned. I truly enjoyed Lalani's story. The visual imagery was vivid, and the descri Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book. Lalani of the Distant Sea is an engaging story about a girl on the island of Sanlagita desperate to change the future as she sees it. When her attempts to change the fate of her fellow townspeople go horribly awry, Lalani sets out to find a way to rewrite her destiny by journeying to Mount Isa across a sea from which no one has ever returned. I truly enjoyed Lalani's story. The visual imagery was vivid, and the descriptions of the island and surrounding areas felt very real. The fantastical elements inspired by Filipino folklore made the story unlike any other I've read, and kept me involved in the story. I loved Lalani's hope that despite all the odds, she could find a way to triumph where so many others had failed. I would love to see readers picking up this story and immersing themselves in it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kier Scrivener

    I simply adored this book, Erin Entrada Kelly has an amazing talent of weaving mythology, worlds and characters into a beautiful mosaic of story. The writing is lovely and lyrical. It tells a story of Lalani Sarita and her town, it is a story of stories and a story of grim reality of poverty and abuse of power, of friendship and betrayal. Of shame and of bullying. Of mythology and folklore inspired original stories. Of fear and of courage. If you love middle grade or not, I recommend this lovely I simply adored this book, Erin Entrada Kelly has an amazing talent of weaving mythology, worlds and characters into a beautiful mosaic of story. The writing is lovely and lyrical. It tells a story of Lalani Sarita and her town, it is a story of stories and a story of grim reality of poverty and abuse of power, of friendship and betrayal. Of shame and of bullying. Of mythology and folklore inspired original stories. Of fear and of courage. If you love middle grade or not, I recommend this lovely book. She is able to describe feelings and experiences in such evocative ways. Characters: 3.5 Worldbuilding: 4.5 Setting: 4 Discussion of Themes: 4

  22. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

    Super enjoyed this book! A couple of things stood out to me as odd and not necessarily in a good way, but they are all spoilers. (view spoiler)[The main thing, though, is the "Imagine you are a..." interludes that explain weird magical things about the world. They are cool weird ideas, but they don't really fit the character of the rest of the book. Also, what's with the Bai bird and the dying vengeful Mindoren? They come out of nowhere and die out of nowh Super enjoyed this book! A couple of things stood out to me as odd and not necessarily in a good way, but they are all spoilers. (view spoiler)[The main thing, though, is the "Imagine you are a..." interludes that explain weird magical things about the world. They are cool weird ideas, but they don't really fit the character of the rest of the book. Also, what's with the Bai bird and the dying vengeful Mindoren? They come out of nowhere and die out of nowhere and seem to not exist for any particular reason. Lastly, I want to say that this plot really smacks of Moana...not necessarily in a bad way, but it still doesn't seem very original. (hide spoiler)] EDIT: I just spoke with a friend about this book and now feel much less kindly about its major plot holes. I'm bumping it down a star for those.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    Likely the best middle-grade fiction I've read this year. In some ways, it's Moana + Pan's Labyrinth. It's grim, creepy, often terrifying and fully wondrous the whole way through. Loosely based on Filipino folklore, Lalani's journey is a tale of friends and monsters, and a young community struggling to survive between an angry mountain and mysterious sea. Excellent characters, unforgettable creatures, and beautiful writing string together a dark tale that sticks with the reader long after the le Likely the best middle-grade fiction I've read this year. In some ways, it's Moana + Pan's Labyrinth. It's grim, creepy, often terrifying and fully wondrous the whole way through. Loosely based on Filipino folklore, Lalani's journey is a tale of friends and monsters, and a young community struggling to survive between an angry mountain and mysterious sea. Excellent characters, unforgettable creatures, and beautiful writing string together a dark tale that sticks with the reader long after the legend is told. A storyteller's story.

  24. 4 out of 5

    LeeAnn

    3 stars. I'm really not sure how I feel about this book by Kelly. There were things I liked: the Filipino folklore connection, a interesting mix of characters, and a female character questioning the norms of her society. Yet those same things were also part of things I had problems with. The short "aside" chapters sprinkled throughout the main story line may have provided background and other info that eventually played into the storyline but they were also a distraction that disrupted the flow. 3 stars. I'm really not sure how I feel about this book by Kelly. There were things I liked: the Filipino folklore connection, a interesting mix of characters, and a female character questioning the norms of her society. Yet those same things were also part of things I had problems with. The short "aside" chapters sprinkled throughout the main story line may have provided background and other info that eventually played into the storyline but they were also a distraction that disrupted the flow. A pronunciation guide might have been helpful as well. As for characters, I think my biggest problem was with Lalani herself. Too often it seemed she was being acted upon rather than acting. She spent a lot of time being rescued by others. She seemed to luck into solutions more than act to bring them about. I was disappointed that the strong female lead I was expecting never fully bloomed. What could have been a great heroine's journey fell flat for me. And that's a shame as I thoroughly enjoyed Kelly's previous books. Maybe next one?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lizanne Johnson

    Stopped by my school to find I’d received an ARC! I couldn’t wait to start and found this book excellent. Inspired by Filipino folktales, this story will keep you turning the pages to find out what will happen to Lalani. I love books with strong girls. Lalani is definitely a powerful character who takes on an impossible task even though she is small. Thanks Greenwillow Books and HarperCollins for the chance to review. I’ll be ordering this for my middle school library.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Grissom

    Beautiful book. Had a "Girl Who Drank the Moon" feel to it. I think it will take just the right kid to read it though. But I personally put it on my favorites shelf. I can see this one winning a few awards. :-)

  27. 4 out of 5

    caitlin

    Review copy courtesy of Edelweiss. This book is written like a fairy tale or in the tradition of oral storytelling, and because of that I couldn’t really get into it. The plus is that each chapter is pretty short so it might be good for reluctant readers, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Had some definite inspiration drawn from Moana and Tangled :) But it is well written, with a fascinating world and social structure, with an unknowingly very strong little heroine and well written and important background characters. Definitely recommend it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Burkhart

    Though this could be quite popular for kids, I was really disappointed with this book. I felt that there was far too much death mentioned throughout the book and a fair dose of evil/violence. Very disappointed.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Namrata

    This book sounds really unique and interesting! Can't wait to get my hands on this!

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