Way to Rio Luna
by Cordova, Zoraida

Holding fast to the belief that his runaway older sister is waiting for him in the enchanted fairy-tale realm of their childhood, an 11-year-old foster child begins losing faith before discovering a mysterious library book that provides a direct map to his imaginary world. Simultaneous eBook.

Zoraida Cˇrdova is the award-winning author of the Brooklyn Brujas series, The Vicious Deep trilogy, and Star Wars: A Crash of Fate. She has contributed stories to the New York Times bestselling anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, and Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft. Zoraida was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York.

*Starred Review* Danilo Danny Monteverde has always believed in magic, but when he learns that his sister, Pili, has gone missing from her last foster home, his belief begins to wane. After years of disappointing and hurtful foster care situations, he still hasn't heard from Pili, but he remembers the fairy tales they loved together, especially their favorite book about a land called Rio Luna, where she promised to wait for him. This bouncy, bubbly narrative crafts an original fairy tale, following Danny on his adventure as he makes new friends and quests to save a magical tome and find his lost sister in Rio Luna. Cˇrdova takes classic fairy-tale tropes and structure and modernizes them, adding diversity and providing a fresh storyline that a broad group of children will be able to relate to. Danny and his ragtag friends must find the correct portal and banish an evil Shadow Witch in order to preserve Rio Luna, and along the way they learn much about belonging, family, trust, and creativity. Fans of the Narnia books or Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth will delight in this microcosmic story-within-a-story, full of secrets and surprises and overflowing with introductions to a host of whimsical characters. Grades 4-7. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

A boy's magical adventure to find his lost sister. Danny Monteverde believes in wishes, fairy dust, and fairy tales, but Danny and his sister's story hasn't had its happy ending yet. He and Pili have been bounced among foster homes and orphanages for a long time. Unfortunately, the siblings are separated after Danny turns 9, and soon, his sister disappears. The next two years are torturous for Danny, as the siblings' favorite book and most valuable possession, The Way to Rio Luna, is taken away by Danny's foster parents after he digs in their backyard trying to find a secret portal to Pili. However, Danny's luck seems about to change when he discovers the original The Way to Rio Luna with the help of magic arrows on a field trip to the New York Public Library. With newfound friend Glory Papillon and a cast of magical creatures, Danny soon finds out that the magic within him is the key to reuniting with his sister and helping those he encounters on the way. In creating her diverse cast, C├│rdova opts for physical descriptions, often in the form of simile—"Danny's hair [is] thick and wavy like ropes of black licorice"; his social worker has skin "like fresh coffee with steamed milk"—rather than specific cultural markers (Glory is also a kid of color). Funny and exciting, C├│rdova's story primes readers for a light, amusing series to come. An entertaining series opener. (Fantasy. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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