Five Reasons to Read: Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith – A Critical Yet Joyous Reimagining of Peter Pan that Centers Indigenous Perspectives

Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Tagline: Lily and Wendy are taking their story back. Reviewed by CW, The Quiet Pond.
Synopsis:

In this modern take of the popular classic Peter Pan, award-winning author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek) brilliantly shifts the focus from the boy who won’t grow up to Native American Lily and English Wendy—stepsisters who must face both dangers and wonders to find their way back to the family they love.

Stepsisters Lily and Wendy embark on a high-flying journey of magic, adventure, and courage—to a fairy-tale island known as Neverland.

Lily and Wendy have been best friends since they became stepsisters. But with their feuding parents planning to spend the summer apart, what will become of their family—and their friendship?

Little do they know that a mysterious boy has been watching them from the oak tree outside their window. A boy who intends to take them away from home for good, to an island of wild animals, Merfolk, Fairies, and kidnapped children.

A boy who calls himself Peter Pan.

One of the biggest reasons why I love a good retelling of a classic is how the retelling reimagines the story from a modern perspective. Classics, though beloved for good reason, aren’t always perfect and oftentimes carry with them archaic and harmful perspectives that reflects the times in which it is written.

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Book Recommendations – 9 Books by Indigenous Authors that We’ve Read and Loved!

In case you’re new to the Pond’s book recommendation posts, the recommendation posts are brought to you by Varian, the Pond’s very own Toadshifter who is knowledgeable in all kinds of magic! One of Varian’s ambitions is to get better at sewing, hence why whenever Varian has come up with their latest costume, they will always recommend a few books that inspired them!

November is Native-American Heritage Month, and we wanted to share the joy of indigenous books with you all! Heritage Months are a call to reflect on and thoughtfully engage with colonial histories and realities, but they can also be an opportunity for us to uplift and celebrate achievements of Indigenous people. Though today’s book recommendation post takes place during Native-American Heritage Month, our hope is that you will read these books, not just in November, but also every other year of the month as well and engage with Indigenous literature all year long.

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Book Review: Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca – A Gorgeous Novel about Mother-Daughter Relationships and Immigration Stories that Will Break Your Heart

Synopsis:

Reha feels torn between two worlds: school, where she’s the only Indian American student, and home, with her family’s traditions and holidays. But Reha’s parents don’t understand why she’s conflicted—they only notice when Reha doesn’t meet their strict expectations. Reha feels disconnected from her mother, or Amma, although their names are linked—Reha means “star” and Punam means “moon”—but they are a universe apart.

Then Reha finds out that her Amma is sick. Really sick.

Reha, who dreams of becoming a doctor even though she can’t stomach the sight of blood, is determined to make her Amma well again. She’ll be the perfect daughter, if it means saving her Amma’s life.

Cuddle's review:

I don’t know what it is about this time of year that makes me more drawn to reading novels in verse. Perhaps it’s the contemplative and expressive autumn feels, or the release of Red (Taylor’s version), but whatever it is, I am so glad that it led me to pick up Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca. It is a middle grade novel in verse, and features our protagonist, Reha, who is an Indian-American girl who is a second generation immigrant living in the Midwest of the USA. When the book opens, her main emotional conflict is that she is torn between the community she has at school, where she sometimes feels “too Indian”, being one of the only Indian-American students, and home, where she sometimes feels “too American”. The author commented that this book draws directly on her personal experience as a teen growing up in the 1980s. 

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Book Review: Tidesong by Wendy Xu – An Enchanting Slice-of-Life Graphic Novel about Water Witches, Water Dragons, and the Magic of Sharing Our Feelings

Tidesong by Wendy
Synopsis:

Sophie is a young witch whose mother and grandmother pressure her to attend the Royal Magic Academy—the best magic school in the realm—even though her magic is shaky at best. To train for her entrance exams, Sophie is sent to relatives she’s never met.

Cousin Sage and Great-Aunt Lan seem more interested in giving Sophie chores than in teaching her magic. Frustrated, Sophie attempts magic on her own, but the spell goes wrong, and she accidentally entangles her magic with the magic of a young water dragon named Lir.

Lir is trapped on land and can’t remember where he came from. Even so, he’s everything Sophie isn’t—beloved by Sophie’s family and skilled at magic. With his help, Sophie might just ace her entrance exams, but that means standing in the way of Lir’s attempts to regain his memories. Sophie knows what she’s doing is wrong, but without Lir’s help, can she prove herself?

I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you are a fan of Studio Ghibli films, especially Kiki’s Delivery Service or Whisper of the Heart (which are two of my personal favourites), then I think you are going to love Tidesong by Wendy Xu. With its gentle narrative, tender and heartfelt messages, and gorgeous art, this gorgeous middle-grade graphic novel now has a place in my heart forever. Not only did I adore this book with my whole being, Tidesong is the kind of book that will resonate with so many readers, especially those of us who often struggle with the pressures that we place on ourselves.

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Book Recommendations – Witches, Monsters, Ghosts and Vampires Galore! 9 Books for Spooky and Non-Spooky Lovers Alike

In case you’re new to the Pond’s book recommendation posts, the recommendation posts are brought to you by Varian, the Pond’s very own Toadshifter who is knowledgeable in all kinds of magic! One of Varian’s ambitions is to get better at sewing, hence why whenever Varian has come up with their latest costume, they will always recommend a few books that inspired them!

I love the festive spirit of spooky season. There’s something so delightful in living vicariously through those who bring out the pumpkins, put so much effort into spooky-fying their homes, and people who dress up in the coolest Halloween costumes. Here at the Pond, we love celebrating by doing what we love: seizing the opportunity to recommend some awesome books.

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