Legends of Lotus Island: The Guardian Test
Christina Soontornvat, Author
Kevin Hong, Illustrator
Scholastic Press, Fiction, Mar. 7. 2023
Suitable for ages: 8-12
Themes: Adventure, Fantasy, Myths, Legends, Nature, Magical Creatures
Book Jacket Synopsis:
On an island like no other, an incredible adventure begins.
Young Plum is shocked to discover that she’s been accepted to the Guardian Academy on Lotus Island, an elite school where kids learn how to transform into Guardians, magical creatures who are sworn to protect the natural world. The Guardian masters teach Plum and her friends how to communicate with animals and how to use meditation to strengthen their minds and bodies. All the kids also learn to fight, so they can protect the defenseless if needed.
To her dismay, Plum struggles at school. While her classmates begin to transform into amazing creatures, Plum can’t even seem to magic up a single feather! If she can’t embrace her inner animal form soon, she’ll have to leave school ― and lose the first group of real friends she’s ever known.
Why I like this book:
Christina Soontornvat has written a captivating new middle grade fantasy series for readers who love animals, nature and want to protect our planet. It is packed with kid-appeal.
The story is set in the Santipap Islands. (Check out the map in the front of the book) Plum, has lived her entire life with her grandparents on Little Island, where she helps with the gardening. She loves the feel of digging her hands into the moist soil. She scoops up the plump worms and asks them the best place to plant her favorite vegetables and chai-melons. Even her goat understands her. She has a way with plants and animals. When she receives news that she’s been selected to train at the Guardian Academy, she reluctantly goes. At first, she feels like a farm girl compared to some the other students. She endures their teasing. But as her training progresses, she realizes that she has gifts and talents that come naturally, as do some very unlikely friendships.
The plot is enchanting, full of wonder and mystery. And there is tension as Plum and her new friends train hard to embrace their own special inner powers and connect with their Guardian forms. This is their first test and they must transform into a magical creature, or return home.
This series is perfect for readers who are just moving from chapter books into middle grade books, which can be quite daunting when they are 300+ pages. Legends os Lotus Island is 160 pages, and peppered with lovely pen and ink illustrations by Kevin Hong, which help readers visualize the action. Soontornvat manages to write shorter chapters, without compromising the depth of her well-developed and fast-moving story.
Prediction: This new series will be a winner among readers. And they will be teased with the inclusion of an excerpt from Legends of Lotus Island: Into the Shadow Mist, which will be released July 18.
Christina Soontornvat is the bestselling author of two Newbery Honor books, A Wish in the Dark, and All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team. She is also the author of The Last Mapmaker, and Scholastic’s beloved fantasy series Diary of an Ice Princess, as well as the picture books, The Ramble Shamble Children, and To Change a Planet. As a child, Christina spent most of her time at her parents’ Thai restaurant with her nose stuck in a book. These days, she loves nothing better than spending a day hiking and swimming in the creeks and swimming holes around Austin, Texas, with her husband and two daughters. You can learn more about her work at her website.
Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.
*Reviewed from a purchased copy.
18 thoughts on “Legends of Lotus Island by Christina Soontornvat”
This does sound like a great series for kids who like animals. And it’s great that it’s a more reasonable page length for kids who don’t like to read longer middle grade books yet.
I think this will be a winning series with kids. And it’s nice the next book is out in July, so there isn’t a long wait!
Sounds exciting. I loved listening to the author describe the book too. Her enthusiasm is contagious!!
I loved the video trailer too! I really enjoy Christina’s books — in all genres. This one will win the hearts of many kids. And it’s short!
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I do enjoy Christina Soontornvat’s books and this looks exciting and fun. Thanks for sharing and Happy MMGM
Yes, I’m a fan of her work. And, I’m especially pleased to see this lightly Thai-themed series published. Great characters and plot.
I love books for this age/development range. They’re so hard to get just right. Thanks for the spotlight!
I agree with your comments. Am delighted to see a series so well-written for the age group.
Great video you shared along with your engaging review. I’m always on the lookout for beginning MG books and this one sounds perfect. Short chapters and a page turning plot has this one high on my list of future reads. Thanks for featuring on MMGM this week.
Yes, I loved the videow with Christina. We both are sensitive to how important it is to find MG book that are page turners for beginning readers. And I love that book 2 will be released in July.
I haven’t read any of Christina Soontornvat’s books, but my sense from reviews (and the many awards she’s received) is that she is both extremely talented, and extremely prolific! I hadn’t seen this series before, but it looks like such a compelling fantasy series, with an accessible length for readers transitioning into MG. Thanks so much for the thoughtful review, Patricia!
I hope you check our Christina’s books. My favorite is “A Wish in the Dark” and “All Thirteen: The Thai Soccer…” There is usually a Thai theme in her books. She is both talented and prolific!
Fantasy is not my cup of tea, but some people in my family would love this. I like the idea of characters defending the natural world and think it will be a great hook for kids. Thanks for your review
I know, but I think you would give a nod to this series, Rosi!
I love fantasy and I think the idea of short fantasy reads is a great one. This story sounds good, and who wouldn’t love to able to communicate better with animals? Thanks for sharing!
It’s going to be fun to watch the growth of Plum and her friends as they manifest their gifts and use them.
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Wow–this author is very talented! Fantasy is not my thing too much, but I’m sure there are lots of kids who will love this book.
I have come to love fantasy and magical realism as it is a way to tell an action-packed or engaging story that will resonate with kids.