Friday, July 02, 2021

Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom

Mandanjna, Sangu. Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom
July 6th 2021 by Viking Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Kiki, who struggles with anxiety, lives with her mother in London and loves to draw. She also loves hearing myths from Indian culture and celebrating festivals they way her grandparents did in Karnataka, the state they were from. When Kiki starts drawing her own version of the legend of Mysore, and the demon king Mahishasura, things start to go wrong. She opens a portal into that world, and the demon comes into her bedroom and sets her desk on fire! She sees a girl outside run the demon off with a sword, and when she goes after her, finds that it is Ashwini, a relative about whom her aunties tell cautionary tales, and whom she has worked into her book. Ashwini tells her that only Kiki can dispatch Mahishasura, and takes her to the world that Kiki herself has drawn. Kiki meets many of the characters she has created, like Lej, Jojo, Suki and Samara, the "Crows" who live in a house also designed by Kiki. Ashwini tells Kiki that Mahishasura can be defeated if the golden eye of the gandaberunda is broken, but that the world that Kiki has created will cease to exist once that happens. The interactions between the worlds seems to be more complicated than this, and Kiki is plunged into an adventure that takes her to an underground market, and on many other adventures while she figures how to best keep the demons out of her world without destroying her own creation. 
Strengths: Kiki is a sympathetic character who reacts understandably when attacked by a demon, and even though she is anxious, undertakes trying to save the world. Having her thrust into a world of her own creation is fascinating. I really enjoyed the house that the Crows lived in, and appreciated that a lot of time was spent there in between attempts to overthrow the demon. I was half expecting Kiki to have to travel all over on a quest, but this thankfully broke from that standard formula. There's plenty of food, hot chocolate, and hanging around to recuperate from demon hunting, which I like just about as much as the action. My students, who always want things to happen, will find plenty of chases and demons setting things on fire. 
Weaknesses: As with DasGupta's Kiranmala and Chokshi's Pandava chronicles, I almost needed an index, like Riordan's books have, with a list of characters. I just don't have the background knowledge to bring to this story, and I'm afraid many of my students will be in the same boat. While it's not completely necessary to understand the story, I feel that having a really good grasp of Greek and Roman mythology made the Riordan books even more enjoyable. I'd love to see books of stories like Napoli's "Tales From..." to go along with these. 
What I really think: This was a fresh take on fantasy, with a lot of fascinating Indian mythology as well. About fifteen years ago, there were a lot of fantasy books involving books; Funke's Inkheart, Womack's The Other Book (2008), Skelton's Endymion Spring (2006), Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars, and others that are lost to the mists of time were very popular. Perhaps we are seeing a resurgence, with Perry's The Thieving Collectors of Fine Children's Books . I liked this one because Kiki got to go into a world she had created. 

Ms. Yingling

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