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.
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*Reviewed from a purchased copy.