Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Fantasy Tuesday- The Way to Rio Luna

Córdova, Zoraida. The Way to Rio Luna 
June 2nd 2020 by Scholastic Inc.
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Danny Monteverde has had a rough life. He and his older sister Pili have spent many years in foster care, and she has always taken care of him when the placements were rough. The two shared a love of a book called The Way to Rio Luna, and would imagine their life there. When Pili goes missing, everyone is sure she has run away, but Danny knows better. He goes from family to family, most of which are unpleasant, and is currently in a family with two boys who treat him badly. The father even throws away his book, which devastates him. On a class field trip to a museum, he finds out that the book is rare and valuable, and when it magically appears in his back pack AND his sister's name is on the borrower's card, he makes the decision to run away from the field trip and try to find out more. Aided by Glory, who is cared for by Auntie North, who is an archaeologist, he finds out that the magic in the book is real. Soon, the two are on a quest that takes them to many places, from New York to Ecuador to Brazil. Will Danny be able to find his sister, and trust in the magic of Rio Luna to put everything to rights? 

One of our 6th grade teachers had a unit on the hero's journey, and this would be a great book for that. While Danny's experience in foster care seems a bit unrealistically harsh (hopefully!), this background paves the way for him to set forth on his own without regret. Finding his sister, and helping Rio Luna along the way, is a great quest. 

There are a wide variety of different characters from the book that he gets to meet, like the Moon Witch and Llwelyn, a jackalope, and the travels are interesting and well described. Glory and Auntie North are interesting characters, and help Danny out in many ways. I was a little unsure what archaeology the aunt did, but it's always a career of interest to young readers. 

Readers who believe they can be sucked into fairy tales for rollicking adventures, and who have sped through like Buckley's The Sister's Grimm, Colfer's Land of Stories, de la Cruz's Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy or Durst's Into the Wild will enjoy Danny's entry into the fantastical world of Rio Luna. 

This was not one of my favorites. The depiction of foster care was problematic, and I couldn't pin down the inspiration behind the world of Rio Luna. Was it based on a particular culture? It was all over the place, and I was particularly thrown by Ollie Oshiro, of the Kohlrabi Court. The author seems to write mainly young adult, and I think it's particularly difficult to switch from that age range to middle grade. Younger readers may not mind, and the pomeranian on the cover might make this more appealing. 

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