16 Sep / Kiki Kallira Conquers a Curse [Kiki Kallira, Book 2] by Sangu Mandanna [in School Library Journal]
Indian-born British actor Zenia Starr returns to narrate the second volume of Sangu Mandanna’s Hindu mythology-inspired series, featuring now 12-year-old Kiki whose artistic prowess can engender whole worlds. To read both titles in order (Kiki debuted in Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom), of course, is best, but Mandanna expertly provides enough background to warrant a standalone adventure.
Back in London, Mum doesn’t know yet that Kiki created a magical kingdom (based on Mum’s mythic Indian storytelling!) then saved the universe – until magical Pip pops out of Kiki’s sketchbook. Kiki’s being summoned; destruction looms again. Intertwined with the thrilling exploits are deftly inserted details about confronting and treating mental health challenges.
Verdict: While the majority of Starr’s performance provides fast-paced entertainment, certain choices fail; voicing twin sisters while seemingly holding her nose proves to be an especially clumsy misstep.
From the introduction: For the latest audio roundup, we turn to titles inspired by fairy tales and mythology, each published in 2022. Rewriting, adapting, subverting the familiar has long been a popular literary trope – who can argue with universal appeal? Cinderella, especially, continues to be an evergreen favorite, appearing in multiple stories, often in surprising permutations. Read (and listen) on!
Readers: Middle Grade