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Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom

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Kiki Kallira has always been a worrier. Did she lock the front door? Is there a terrible reason her mom is late? Recently her anxiety has been getting out of control, but one thing that has always soothed her is drawing. Kiki's sketchbook is full of fanciful doodles of the rich Indian myths and legends her mother has told her over the years. One day, her sketchbook's calmin Kiki Kallira has always been a worrier. Did she lock the front door? Is there a terrible reason her mom is late? Recently her anxiety has been getting out of control, but one thing that has always soothed her is drawing. Kiki's sketchbook is full of fanciful doodles of the rich Indian myths and legends her mother has told her over the years. One day, her sketchbook's calming effect is broken when her mythological characters begin springing to life right out of its pages. Kiki ends up falling into the mystical world she drew, which includes a lot of wonderful discoveries like the band of rebel kids who protect the kingdom, as well as not-so-great ones like the ancient deity bent on total destruction. As the one responsible for creating the evil god, Kiki must overcome her fear and anxiety to save both worlds--the real and the imagined--from his wrath. But how can a girl armed with only a pencil defeat something so powerful?


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Kiki Kallira has always been a worrier. Did she lock the front door? Is there a terrible reason her mom is late? Recently her anxiety has been getting out of control, but one thing that has always soothed her is drawing. Kiki's sketchbook is full of fanciful doodles of the rich Indian myths and legends her mother has told her over the years. One day, her sketchbook's calmin Kiki Kallira has always been a worrier. Did she lock the front door? Is there a terrible reason her mom is late? Recently her anxiety has been getting out of control, but one thing that has always soothed her is drawing. Kiki's sketchbook is full of fanciful doodles of the rich Indian myths and legends her mother has told her over the years. One day, her sketchbook's calming effect is broken when her mythological characters begin springing to life right out of its pages. Kiki ends up falling into the mystical world she drew, which includes a lot of wonderful discoveries like the band of rebel kids who protect the kingdom, as well as not-so-great ones like the ancient deity bent on total destruction. As the one responsible for creating the evil god, Kiki must overcome her fear and anxiety to save both worlds--the real and the imagined--from his wrath. But how can a girl armed with only a pencil defeat something so powerful?

30 review for Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom

  1. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Ngan

    Had me laughing, gasping and my heart soaring with every page. Readers will be sucked into this fast-paced adventure just like its heroine Kiki gets drawn into her make-believe world, with energetic writing, a cast of loveable young rogues, and heart-warming themes of found family and discovering your own power. Do not miss it! 

  2. 4 out of 5

    aarya

    Content Notes: (view spoiler)[death of secondary character (hide spoiler)] I rarely read middle grade fantasy these days — not because I don’t love it, but because I’ve prioritized reading adult/ya novels as I get older (unfortunately MG gets left in the dust due to limited reading time). I’m so glad Sangu Mandanna’s release inspired me to try one again because it is delightful. If you’re looking to buy books for a child who loves Rick Riordan or Aru Shah, this is the perfect gift. Found family f Content Notes: (view spoiler)[death of secondary character (hide spoiler)] I rarely read middle grade fantasy these days — not because I don’t love it, but because I’ve prioritized reading adult/ya novels as I get older (unfortunately MG gets left in the dust due to limited reading time). I’m so glad Sangu Mandanna’s release inspired me to try one again because it is delightful. If you’re looking to buy books for a child who loves Rick Riordan or Aru Shah, this is the perfect gift. Found family feels, intricate (but very easily understandable) mythology, and never-ending action. Re: the anxiety plot. Oof. I held off on reading my arc for a unique reason. While representation is necessary/important, there is such a thing as feeling TOO seen, you know? Kiki has anxiety, South Indian ancestry, and a fascination with Indian mythology. I’m not in middle school anymore, but when I was that age… yeah, the similarities are uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s hard to read books that strike TOO familiar a cord — vulnerability is hard to grapple with! My personal issues aside, the mental health storyline is incredible. The reveal about how Kiki’s anxiety tied to her artistic magical world made me cry. I’m so glad kids have a diverse slate of books to read these days. Kidlit still has a LONG way to go, but the options are so much richer compared to fifteen years ago. Imagine having multiple South Asian middle grade SFF worlds to revel in! My fourth grade self would’ve been over the moon, and my mid-20s self is as well. Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I wish every single anxious kid (and adult!) could read this beautiful MG fantasy novel about art and beauty,the power of fighting our own monsters - AND the power of talking about our fears and getting the help that we need, too. My kids and I all adored this book from the very first page, and - I know this is going to sound over-inflated, and I'm sorry for that, but it's absolutely 100% true - it very quickly became my very favorite MG portal fantasy since the Narnia books. This time, the port I wish every single anxious kid (and adult!) could read this beautiful MG fantasy novel about art and beauty,the power of fighting our own monsters - AND the power of talking about our fears and getting the help that we need, too. My kids and I all adored this book from the very first page, and - I know this is going to sound over-inflated, and I'm sorry for that, but it's absolutely 100% true - it very quickly became my very favorite MG portal fantasy since the Narnia books. This time, the portal is into Kiki Kallira's own sketchbook, where she's created an incredible fantasy world to escape from her own anxious brain - but when she's pulled into it, she finds not escape but friendship, courage, and the realization of her own power. I loved every minute of it! When it finished, my son let out a sigh and said, "It's SAD that it's done." I felt exactly the same way! We both wanted to live in it forever.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robin Stevens

    A fast-paced, vivid and exciting adventure story with real heart, I couldn't stop reading! (8+) *Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. Please do not use it in any marketing material, online or in print, without asking permission from me first. Thank you!* A fast-paced, vivid and exciting adventure story with real heart, I couldn't stop reading! (8+) *Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. Please do not use it in any marketing material, online or in print, without asking permission from me first. Thank you!*

  5. 4 out of 5

    Fanna

    October 26, 2020: Yeah, you all can show your disappointment at me for not knowing about this before today BUT I AM SUPER EXCITED AH

  6. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    So rarely have I seen the obsessive thinking and catastrophizing that comes with this kind of mental illness so openly portrayed this accessibly to young audiences. I think it's going to make a lot of kids feel really seen! I also loved getting to dig into this particular avenue of Indian folklore, with the acknowledgement that so much of folklore is what we make it in retellings. There were a few things I wanted to dig deeper into ( (view spoiler)[ example, there were some moments where I think So rarely have I seen the obsessive thinking and catastrophizing that comes with this kind of mental illness so openly portrayed this accessibly to young audiences. I think it's going to make a lot of kids feel really seen! I also loved getting to dig into this particular avenue of Indian folklore, with the acknowledgement that so much of folklore is what we make it in retellings. There were a few things I wanted to dig deeper into ( (view spoiler)[ example, there were some moments where I think shock and grief really deserved a bit more tenderness and time (hide spoiler)] ) but on the whole I think this was a really fun, excellent, important book that I can't wait to put into kids' hands.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Stahl

    I love a good portal fantasy / pocket universe story, and this one was excellent! Southern Indian traditions and Hindu mythologies provide the tapestry of the tale that our anxious young artist Kiki brings to life — literally. Drawing in her sketch book is sometimes the only thing that quiets the voice of nearly uncontrollable worry in Kiki's head. She has spent many recent hours pouring her anxious energy into drawing the Indian myths and legends she loves. That's all well and good until a viole I love a good portal fantasy / pocket universe story, and this one was excellent! Southern Indian traditions and Hindu mythologies provide the tapestry of the tale that our anxious young artist Kiki brings to life — literally. Drawing in her sketch book is sometimes the only thing that quiets the voice of nearly uncontrollable worry in Kiki's head. She has spent many recent hours pouring her anxious energy into drawing the Indian myths and legends she loves. That's all well and good until a violent, vengeful god from those stories takes control of her sketchbook world — and wants to use it to get to this one too. Kiki knows she's not the hero they need, but she has to do something! She joins a quirky cast of mostly kid characters to try to help free her sketchbook world from the evil god and his demons. With lots of humor, a beautiful and clever arc about anxiety, some gasp-out-loud moments in an active adventure, gorgeous world-building, high stakes steps and missteps, a celebration of diversity in strengths and abilities, and another book coming to continue the series, Kiki Kallira deserves a Rick Riordan-level of readership. In fact, it's perfect for fans of Riordan, the Riordan Presents line (including Aru Shah and Tristan Strong), and bookish fantasies like Pages & Co. Bookwanderers, the Land of Stories, and Inkheart. [I switched back and forth between the paper book and the excellent audiobook for this one, which was a great way to learn some of the pronunciations and also helped me keep the characters straight.]

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    This is such an amazing middle grade fantasy, that although has all the “typical” fantasy elements - magic, new worlds, an eclectic cast of young characters, and a “big bad”, Kiki Kallira reads wholly new and unique. The writing is smooth, smart, and the plotting is perfectly paced for a read that is very difficult to put down! With a strong focus and discussion on anxiety this middle grade elevates itself by bringing great insights and conversations to middle grade readers, many of whom are exp This is such an amazing middle grade fantasy, that although has all the “typical” fantasy elements - magic, new worlds, an eclectic cast of young characters, and a “big bad”, Kiki Kallira reads wholly new and unique. The writing is smooth, smart, and the plotting is perfectly paced for a read that is very difficult to put down! With a strong focus and discussion on anxiety this middle grade elevates itself by bringing great insights and conversations to middle grade readers, many of whom are experiencing similar emotions to Kiki in these pandemic times. Kiki is relatable, flawed, kind, and you root for her every step of the way. Imaginative, funny, and compelling this delightful middle grade features a great core group - The Crow Club - of extremely likeable, fully realized characters that shine with their own unique voices. From kindly, talking lions, magical palaces, Gods and beings of Indian mythology, Kiki Kallira Breaks A Kingdom is a gripping, exciting, and emotional read, with an ending that is pitch perfect - no more, no less than necessary. Easily one of my favourite middle grade reads of 2021.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom was such a beautiful story with fantastic worldbuilding and a diverse cast of characters that was so much fun to read. There are some brilliant messages woven throughout the story in relation to celebrating our own merits, not comparing ourselves to others and working together as a team. Something that I enjoyed equally was the anxiety representation and how that was explored throughout the novel, Kiki is the perfect (imperfect) rolemodel that will bring so much con Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom was such a beautiful story with fantastic worldbuilding and a diverse cast of characters that was so much fun to read. There are some brilliant messages woven throughout the story in relation to celebrating our own merits, not comparing ourselves to others and working together as a team. Something that I enjoyed equally was the anxiety representation and how that was explored throughout the novel, Kiki is the perfect (imperfect) rolemodel that will bring so much confidence and comfort to so many children. The rest of the cast of characters were unique and memorable in the best way, and were not without their own struggles either. The way mythology and culture is entwined into the story creates such a vibrant and interesting setting that you get sucked into from the first page. I am sure those with knowledge of Hindu mythology will love to see these characters reinvented into a new light whilst the explanations throughout make it a great starting point for those that have never been emersed into this type of culture before. The writing style really does make it accessible. One thing I would say, is there is a slight lull in pacing around the middle of the book but the plot twists and action towards the end makes it totally worth sticking out, even if the speed the story goes at isn't always consistent. Overall would definitely recommend it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mallie Moore

    I was totally sucked into Kiki's adventure and loved every second! The cast of characters was great, Kiki's journey with her mental health and personal strength is so powerful, and I'm so excited to have more adventures in Mysore I was totally sucked into Kiki's adventure and loved every second! The cast of characters was great, Kiki's journey with her mental health and personal strength is so powerful, and I'm so excited to have more adventures in Mysore

  11. 5 out of 5

    Insert Name Here

    This is one of those reviews that's hard to write. Not because I didn't enjoy it - I really did! - but because I'm pretty sure this is just going to be an incoherant ramble about the BRILLIANT and the FUN and the HEART BREAK and the MUST READ! In fact, in case I forget later, here is my very favourite quote; I've already put it on Twitter, but I think it's worth highlighting again. Suki was the last one to go. With her hand on my doorknob, she stopped and looked back at me. 'Try to remember, ok?' 'R This is one of those reviews that's hard to write. Not because I didn't enjoy it - I really did! - but because I'm pretty sure this is just going to be an incoherant ramble about the BRILLIANT and the FUN and the HEART BREAK and the MUST READ! In fact, in case I forget later, here is my very favourite quote; I've already put it on Twitter, but I think it's worth highlighting again. Suki was the last one to go. With her hand on my doorknob, she stopped and looked back at me. 'Try to remember, ok?' 'Remember what?' 'Little girls can beat big bad wolves. We have teeth, too.' What a fantastic message to give to young readers! Suki gets a couple of lines like that and they fall so beautifully. If this book had nothing else going for it, I'd still love it just for those words. But it has plenty of other things going for it; a fabulous main character (PARENTS NOTE, she suffers with anxiety and children may have questions or want to discuss it after reading) a brilliant setting, a background in myths that are neither GrecoRoman nor British, amazing descriptions, really clever twists and turns...really, this book has so much going for it. It's one of a few due out this year featuring the basic idea 'someone draws things that come to life' and if they're all this amazing, we're in for a fantastic treat. I loved the way Kiki uses everything she's learned from everyone to fight her battles. I love how simple and clever her final solution is. I love - though I don't know why, other than the lovely image - the way she keeps referring to the city as her 'golden kingdom'. And I really hope there's more to read in this world. I'll be eagerly waiting to see what else Kiki and her friends are going to get up to. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to brush up on my Indian myths...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    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 gir 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.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bee

    𝐾𝑖𝑘𝑖 𝐾𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑖𝑟𝑎 𝐵𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑘𝑠 𝑎 𝐾𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑑𝑜𝑚 by Sangu Mandanna is truly magical. I'm beyond happy I have read this as it took me back to the various myths and legends I had read about as a child. I couldn't help but initially see the similarity to the Narnia series of disappearing from our world into one so fantastical that it cannot seem real but dare I say it? 𝐾𝑖𝑘𝑖 𝐾𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑖𝑟𝑎 𝐵𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑘𝑠 𝑎 𝐾𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑑𝑜𝑚 is far better than Narnia in my humble opinion because of the world Kiki has brought to life and the way Sangu Mandanna d 𝐾𝑖𝑘𝑖 𝐾𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑖𝑟𝑎 𝐵𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑘𝑠 𝑎 𝐾𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑑𝑜𝑚 by Sangu Mandanna is truly magical. I'm beyond happy I have read this as it took me back to the various myths and legends I had read about as a child. I couldn't help but initially see the similarity to the Narnia series of disappearing from our world into one so fantastical that it cannot seem real but dare I say it? 𝐾𝑖𝑘𝑖 𝐾𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑖𝑟𝑎 𝐵𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑘𝑠 𝑎 𝐾𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑑𝑜𝑚 is far better than Narnia in my humble opinion because of the world Kiki has brought to life and the way Sangu Mandanna describes it. I wished (even if I were facing demons and really annoyed Gods) that I were able to slip into a tear between worlds alongside Kiki and her ancestor because the world-building of Mysore is just that good. Mahishasura is a buffalo Asura or demon in Hinduism and Kiki after recalling the tales her Mother told her growing up, has drawn her version of the mythical town blending recollections from her visits to India and modern aspects of London and I just loved the concept that is just how a teenager whose muse has taken control would lose hours on. I couldn't help but giggle to myself that Kiki was experiencing all of this whilst dressed in rainbow unicorn pj's as she's been drawn into her world at three in the morning - and is annoyed she forgot her shoes! Kiki is someone who is easy to relate to, she suffers from anxiety that is both frustrating and all-consuming and I think it is that which makes her feel real. She may well be the heroine of the book but she isn't infallible and she's human. Kiki's anxiety plays a part in her day to day life and both children and adults can relate to her second-guessing whether she did something or not and then her mind blowing the initial thought out of control so for an example, an unlocked front door could lead to death by stray goose in London. I loved how we see her begin to believe in herself, to convince herself that she was more than her anxiety and her questioning whether she has done something etcetera. 𝐾𝑖𝑘𝑖 𝐾𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑖𝑟𝑎 𝐵𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑘𝑠 𝑎 𝐾𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑑𝑜𝑚 is a book I didn't want to end and was wonderful to read mixing Hindu Gods wonderfully with a modern tale of bravery and facing your greatest fear. It's a story to read aloud because as an adult, you will be drawn into it just as much as your children are!

  14. 5 out of 5

    ND

    I wanted to like this book more than I did. It falls into the major trap nearly all "I wish this character had existed when I was a kid" type books fall into though: it talks down to children. I cannot stand books talking down to children. Kids aren't stupid! They understand a lot more than adults give them credit for. They can handle complex topics and difficult issues without being spoon-fed. This book spoon-feeds. Painfully. The anxiety/acceptance plot is so trite I can't imagine most kids bei I wanted to like this book more than I did. It falls into the major trap nearly all "I wish this character had existed when I was a kid" type books fall into though: it talks down to children. I cannot stand books talking down to children. Kids aren't stupid! They understand a lot more than adults give them credit for. They can handle complex topics and difficult issues without being spoon-fed. This book spoon-feeds. Painfully. The anxiety/acceptance plot is so trite I can't imagine most kids being willing to put up with it. I know I wouldn't have at nine or ten. It's too bad because the book starts off great. Kiki is fun and engaging when she's allowed to simply exist as a child with anxiety. It's when the book tries to insert fan-ish conversations about fantasy worlds and representation that everything falls apart. For instance, Kiki repeatedly beats herself up about not giving her made-up band of child heroes parents or guardians. This is not something most kids ever notice or care about. They're aware enough to understand that if Peter Pan had adult supervision they'd tell him that pirates are dangerous and to get away from that crocodile. Adults are the ones who write meta about parents in fantasy stories being criminally incompetent. There's also a major plot hole in that Kiki, upon being taken into a world created by her own drawings, never stops to ask if she can just go back to her proper world and draw her band of heroes defeating the bad guy. It's a clear indication of Mandanna having no concept of how children think because that is literally the first question every child I know would ask. Give a reason it can't be done if you want, but you have to rule out the simplest, most obvious solution before moving on to the rest of the story. Especially in books for kids. There is no group of critics more capable of ripping apart an overly-complicated plot than 8-12 year old children. That plot hole, combined with the overly didactic portrayal of anxiety and a cast of characters that never fully came to life, made the book slow to read. I like the idea. I like the intentions. But good intentions and a fun idea are not enough to make a book worth reading.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Thank you to NetGalley and Hachette Children's Group for my eARC of Kiki Kallira. All views and opinions discussed here are my own. This is a wonderfully diverse and new fantasy novel; exploring Indian myths and legends, gods and goddesses, and with plenty tasty descriptions of foods thrown in there. Kiki is a wonderful main character; she has her struggles with anxiety although doesn't quite understand that that is what it is. I think it's so positive and refreshing to put such serious issues in Thank you to NetGalley and Hachette Children's Group for my eARC of Kiki Kallira. All views and opinions discussed here are my own. This is a wonderfully diverse and new fantasy novel; exploring Indian myths and legends, gods and goddesses, and with plenty tasty descriptions of foods thrown in there. Kiki is a wonderful main character; she has her struggles with anxiety although doesn't quite understand that that is what it is. I think it's so positive and refreshing to put such serious issues into MG novels. Mental health isn't something that just affects teenagers and up, there are plenty of children that experience a range of mental health issues and so it's really important that they get to see themselves represented in books and realise they're not alone. The characters and world are also wonderfully diverse with an easy representation that children would find easy to follow and immerse themselves in. Again it's so refreshing to have diverse literature aimed at MG readers; both for children to see themselves in the books and for other children to learn about different cultures. The book is a real easy reader that you'll just fly through. I do feel that some big topics were almost brushed over (view spoiler)[ such as the death of Pip, everyone was affected but it didn't seem to be actually dealt with (hide spoiler)] and so even though this is a MG I think this could have done with a bit more focus. Also, I was so frustrated by Lej throughout this book I wanted to scream; I found him horrible in his actions towards Kiki (view spoiler)[ and I really disliked that he was one of the heroes but Ashwini who had been such a strong character actually turned out to be evil and was betraying them (hide spoiler)] it just let the book down for me a little. Aside from that though, I think this would be a great and diverse read for young readers to explore a little action, adventure, fantasy, and legend! Out 8th July 2021.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Kiki can't control her worrying, which often takes over her brain to such an extent that she has to stop what she's doing, however fun or important it may be, to check on whatever is worrying her. One way she finds to calm her brain is drawing, especially as she's creating, in her sketchbook, her version of the world of ancient Indian legends/mythologies her mother has told her about. In her Mysore, Kiki creates her city, its people, and its dangers, in the form of the evil god Mahishasura and h Kiki can't control her worrying, which often takes over her brain to such an extent that she has to stop what she's doing, however fun or important it may be, to check on whatever is worrying her. One way she finds to calm her brain is drawing, especially as she's creating, in her sketchbook, her version of the world of ancient Indian legends/mythologies her mother has told her about. In her Mysore, Kiki creates her city, its people, and its dangers, in the form of the evil god Mahishasura and his animal-based asuras. To fight the evil, Kiki creates a self-defending palace, as well as a group of asura-fighting kids who all live together at Crow House, led by the kick-butt demon fighter Ashwini. But then, one day, Mahishasura finds a way to open a crack from Kiki's Mysore into Kiki's London. An asura gets out, followed by Ashwini, who fights it and wins, but then takes Kiki through the crack into Kiki's Mysore. It's at once amazing, terrifying, and heartbreaking when Kiki understands that she's doomed a group of orphans into perpetual demon-fighting. According to several sources, only Kiki can defeat Mahishasura and save Mysore, but Kiki is the world's worst fighter, especially when her worries come roaring back and taking over her mind. How can she possibly win? This there-and-back-again fantasy is full of amazingly lush and intricate details and characters. Kiki is such a believable character, and I love her version of being a hero as she learns to use her own abilities rather than trying to (badly) imitate Ashwini's abilities. It was hard to listen to so many characters, on both sides of the struggle, both kids and adults, belittle and undermine Kiki's confidence and self-worth, though it's an honest representation of what so many kids deal with all the time. Kiki does find support as well, though, some of which is freely and lovingly given, and some of which she earns through her actions and convictions. There is a lot of heartbreak in this, as well as betrayal and hopelessness, but I never doubted Kiki would find a way to come through in the end.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Julia Pika

    Thanks to NetGalley & Penguin Young Readers Group for the early copy in exchange for an honest review. Actual rating is 2.75/5 stars. Kiki loves to draw and drawing is her main escape from the chaos of the world. Not to mention, it's an escape from her anxiety disorder. Her life's pretty good until a monster comes to life from her drawings and the hero from her story appeared to save Kiki from the monster. Then she discovers her world is alive in the drawing notebook, and it's in big trouble! It' Thanks to NetGalley & Penguin Young Readers Group for the early copy in exchange for an honest review. Actual rating is 2.75/5 stars. Kiki loves to draw and drawing is her main escape from the chaos of the world. Not to mention, it's an escape from her anxiety disorder. Her life's pretty good until a monster comes to life from her drawings and the hero from her story appeared to save Kiki from the monster. Then she discovers her world is alive in the drawing notebook, and it's in big trouble! It's not really a bad story, it's got a cool Narnia-style idea and worldbuilding, but I felt like as an adult there were too many holes that made the worldbuilding confusing. It also didn't help there wasn't a glossary for half the gods mentioned in the book. Lej was being a total jerkwad the entire book and I couldn't stand them at all. I didn't see the point of their harsh criticisms since Kiki already has to deal with anxiety so it felt like an unnecessary stomping on Kiki herself. Annoying character, frankly. Fair warning, there's a character death. I was pretty shocked it happened in the first place, especially in a book for younger audiences. It didn't help that they brushed over it pretty easily, though. Lej was nasty toward Kiki about it because of COURSE he was. Not a bad read for younger audiences but it wasn't super exciting to me. I really did greatly enjoy the disabled representation in it, however.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    I received an electronic ARC from PENGUIN GROUP Penguin Young Readers Group through NetGalley. Mandanna's message to believe in yourself and fight your own monsters shines through this middle grade fantasy novel. Readers meet Kiki and see her in the midst of an anxiety attack though it's not identified as such. She escapes the repetitive thoughts by drawing and has designed her own version of a legendary kingdom from Indian lore. Through magic, she enters the kingdom along with one of the charact I received an electronic ARC from PENGUIN GROUP Penguin Young Readers Group through NetGalley. Mandanna's message to believe in yourself and fight your own monsters shines through this middle grade fantasy novel. Readers meet Kiki and see her in the midst of an anxiety attack though it's not identified as such. She escapes the repetitive thoughts by drawing and has designed her own version of a legendary kingdom from Indian lore. Through magic, she enters the kingdom along with one of the characters she drew (based on an ancestor she has heard about). She then connects with her other rebel kids - the Crows - and works with them to defeat Mahishasura. In the end, she realizes that she is the only one who can defeat him and she takes back control of her fears and anxieties to do so. Humor, adventure, suspense, and a few mechanical spiders - readers will be delighted to go on this adventure with Kiki and the rest. They will relate to at least one of the characters and see themselves as another Crow taking on evil. They may even find the courage to tackle their own fears and to reach out for help from others to do so. Looking forward to more adventures and perhaps redemption for Ashwini.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    This was a unique and fun MG read. It was about Indian Mythology, which I'm a big Mythology lover so love learning about all Mythology. This was a bit different than other stories in that it addresses anxiety/OCD and what it might look like for a young girl and I can relate to that and think it's great that this is being shown/talked about in the story. It was a pretty quick, fun, and easy read too. It's about a girl, Kiki, who discovers she has the ability to draw things and have them come to li This was a unique and fun MG read. It was about Indian Mythology, which I'm a big Mythology lover so love learning about all Mythology. This was a bit different than other stories in that it addresses anxiety/OCD and what it might look like for a young girl and I can relate to that and think it's great that this is being shown/talked about in the story. It was a pretty quick, fun, and easy read too. It's about a girl, Kiki, who discovers she has the ability to draw things and have them come to life/existence when she finds herself in the magical world she drew with a band of rebel kids and an evil ancient deity that wants to take over her mystical world. Kiki has to overcome her fears and anxiety to stop the bad guy and save both the real world and the magical world. It's very much like other MG reads such as the Aru Shah and Serpent's Secret series and has cool Indian Mythology in it as well. If you're into Mythology/Indian Mythology, like the Aru Shah books or the Rick Riordan Mythology books, you'll like this one. Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Young Readers Group for letting me read and review this book. All opinions are my own.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Magaly C.

    Kiki Kallira is 12-years-old and lives with her mom who has filled her childhood with Indian mythology and legends. Kiki has developed anxiety and obsessive thinking (nothing explicítele diagnosed within the book) and uses a sketchbook as a coping mechanism. She creates a world mixed with modern-day and Indian mythology, in particular, the legend of Mahishasura and the goddess Chamundeshwari. When Kiki is transported into her world and lives with the rebel children who protect her version of Mys Kiki Kallira is 12-years-old and lives with her mom who has filled her childhood with Indian mythology and legends. Kiki has developed anxiety and obsessive thinking (nothing explicítele diagnosed within the book) and uses a sketchbook as a coping mechanism. She creates a world mixed with modern-day and Indian mythology, in particular, the legend of Mahishasura and the goddess Chamundeshwari. When Kiki is transported into her world and lives with the rebel children who protect her version of Mysore, she must defeat Mahishasura, but is limited by her own mind. This novel is written from Kiki’s POV as she struggles with her anxiety while navigating the world she creates. Sangu Mandanna introduces readers to Indian mythology within the realm Kiki creates with diverse characters and beautiful imagery. This is an adventurous and heart-warming middle-grade fantasy novel that highlights friendship, neuro-diversity, physical abilities, and different forms of bravery. E-ARC provided by NetGalley.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ginny

    Oh my heart. I loved this book so so much. Kiki Kallira is just your normal London girl who has fears that a goose is going to burgle her home and murder her mom....yes you read that correctly! Kiki has severe anxiety and to help her brain stop fixating on things that could go wrong, she draws. Starting a new sketchbook, she draws out scenes from an Indian mythology tale her mother told her, but there's just one problem with that...It becomes real! Now Kiki has to defeat the now real mythologica Oh my heart. I loved this book so so much. Kiki Kallira is just your normal London girl who has fears that a goose is going to burgle her home and murder her mom....yes you read that correctly! Kiki has severe anxiety and to help her brain stop fixating on things that could go wrong, she draws. Starting a new sketchbook, she draws out scenes from an Indian mythology tale her mother told her, but there's just one problem with that...It becomes real! Now Kiki has to defeat the now real mythological bad guy in her imaginary mythological world with a group of rebel kids before he enters Kiki's world. I enjoyed this book because it dealt with anxiety issues in a way that makes it easy to understand for kids, and adults. There is also apparent growth of all of the characters in the book, and it was just a fun ride. I adored the audio narrator Zenia Starr-she has a lovely accent to bring life to Kiki, even though for some reason I kept wanting her to speak like Moaning Myrtle from the Harry Potter movies lol. But seriously, she brought a lot of exasperation and emotion to the story in a wonderful way. So, if you or someone you know is a fan of Paola Santiago or Aru Sha they will enjoy this book! And now I have to go look into more books by Sangu Mandanna whilst waiting for (hopefully!!) a 2nd Kiki book. Thank you NetGalley and Viking Books for Young Readers for the arc! And thank you Penguin Random House audio for the review audio.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    (3 and some change) A cute, whimsical middle grade fantasy with lots of charm. Some draggy and repetitive bits, and some that are too on-the-nose, but on the whole quite charming. The book's strength, to me, is its heroine. In contrast to the power fantasies of Percy Jackson et al, she is "just a girl": an anxious, kind-hearted, creative, loving, persistent girl, who discovers and uses her own strengths to forge a victory that is much more than simply "beat the bad guy in a bashing contest." Kiki' (3 and some change) A cute, whimsical middle grade fantasy with lots of charm. Some draggy and repetitive bits, and some that are too on-the-nose, but on the whole quite charming. The book's strength, to me, is its heroine. In contrast to the power fantasies of Percy Jackson et al, she is "just a girl": an anxious, kind-hearted, creative, loving, persistent girl, who discovers and uses her own strengths to forge a victory that is much more than simply "beat the bad guy in a bashing contest." Kiki's art skills, as a twelve-year-old, were frankly implausible, but hey, in a book with a talking lion, a floating castle, animal demons and actual deities, I'll give it a pass. ;) Power quote: "We may be little, but we are not small." Definitely worth a read, especially for for younger readers in your life.

  23. 4 out of 5

    The Keepers of the Books

    Kiki loves to draw and doodle. It helps her deal with her anxiety and worries. Her sketchbook is filled with a magical collection of Indian legends and mythology from her mother’s stories. Then one day something strange happens when the characters she has created come to life from her drawings. Soo she is pulled into their world and must save both worlds, armed with only a pencil. Can Kiki deal with her fears and obstacles to save both worlds. Fast paced, engaging, mystical adventure. Characters Kiki loves to draw and doodle. It helps her deal with her anxiety and worries. Her sketchbook is filled with a magical collection of Indian legends and mythology from her mother’s stories. Then one day something strange happens when the characters she has created come to life from her drawings. Soo she is pulled into their world and must save both worlds, armed with only a pencil. Can Kiki deal with her fears and obstacles to save both worlds. Fast paced, engaging, mystical adventure. Characters are realistic, well developed, and easy to relate to. Perfect for fans of the Rick Riordan Presents books. Please note: This was a review copy given to us by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No financial compensation was received.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Libby

    There's a lot I like about this story, including a main character who struggles with anxiety as well as a secondary character in a wheelchair. But I struggled to connect with Kiki's created world. The elements of Indian mythology and those from the modern world didn't always didn't always blend smoothly. I was also disappointed in the ending which seemed abrupt. I wanted to see Kiki take steps to tell her mom about her struggles, not just think about doing so. I do think younger middle grade rea There's a lot I like about this story, including a main character who struggles with anxiety as well as a secondary character in a wheelchair. But I struggled to connect with Kiki's created world. The elements of Indian mythology and those from the modern world didn't always didn't always blend smoothly. I was also disappointed in the ending which seemed abrupt. I wanted to see Kiki take steps to tell her mom about her struggles, not just think about doing so. I do think younger middle grade readers will enjoy this action-packed tale without getting caught up in the details that I struggled with. Review based on an eARC received through NetGalley.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Libby

    This one took me awhile to get into (and that may be as much because I've been a little oversaturated with mythology recently), but it ended up being a charming story. I especially liked how Kiki's largest battle was actually overcoming her understanding of her anxiety and figuring out how to work with it...since so many kids suffer from anxiety these days, it made her a very relatable character. Some of the reflections on how fantasies play out when they actually come to life were also thought- This one took me awhile to get into (and that may be as much because I've been a little oversaturated with mythology recently), but it ended up being a charming story. I especially liked how Kiki's largest battle was actually overcoming her understanding of her anxiety and figuring out how to work with it...since so many kids suffer from anxiety these days, it made her a very relatable character. Some of the reflections on how fantasies play out when they actually come to life were also thought-provoking. Will definitely hand this to fans of Rick Riordan & Co., but also to some of my kids who might like the character development side.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Avalon

    This book is such a great story! When reading, you can feel the emotions of characters, whether they are happy, sad, mad, envious, lonely, anger, etc. ( and this includes bad guys too). This special effect to the book makes you feel as if you were in Kiki Kallira's world and as if you were the character, feeling their every emotion. Even though this book was written in Kiki's view, Mandanna (expertly, I might add) displayed, the other character's emotions, and made you feel as if you were in eve This book is such a great story! When reading, you can feel the emotions of characters, whether they are happy, sad, mad, envious, lonely, anger, etc. ( and this includes bad guys too). This special effect to the book makes you feel as if you were in Kiki Kallira's world and as if you were the character, feeling their every emotion. Even though this book was written in Kiki's view, Mandanna (expertly, I might add) displayed, the other character's emotions, and made you feel as if you were in every character's shoes throughout the whole story. I strongly recommend this to anyone wanting a new middle grade fantasy to read!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cathy | A Case Full of Books

    This was a delightful read about a girl with anxiety who draws and sketches to help her cope. But one day she discovers that the world she's been drawing is real. And she has created a terrible monster for them to deal with. She has to learn to face her fears and learn to accept that her anxiety does not make her any less of a person to help them defeat the monster. The anxiety representation in this book was fantastic! I love how they didn't make it something for her to overcome, but something f This was a delightful read about a girl with anxiety who draws and sketches to help her cope. But one day she discovers that the world she's been drawing is real. And she has created a terrible monster for them to deal with. She has to learn to face her fears and learn to accept that her anxiety does not make her any less of a person to help them defeat the monster. The anxiety representation in this book was fantastic! I love how they didn't make it something for her to overcome, but something for her to accept about herself. I know my kids will love this one. The idea of your own imagined world being a real place that you can visit? That's just amazing.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shannon { Classically Read...}

    Loved this book, the story was engaging and fast paced. I loved that the character was middle grade and had anxiety. So many people of all ages have this to some degree and we need to see more characters with it, especially in the middle grade and younger reader set. I saw bit of myself in the main character and would love to read more books with her, her friends and family. I also loved learning more about Indian myths and legends and will be looking to see if I can find a book similar to the o Loved this book, the story was engaging and fast paced. I loved that the character was middle grade and had anxiety. So many people of all ages have this to some degree and we need to see more characters with it, especially in the middle grade and younger reader set. I saw bit of myself in the main character and would love to read more books with her, her friends and family. I also loved learning more about Indian myths and legends and will be looking to see if I can find a book similar to the one mentioned in this book. I know this one will be a big hit with middle grade readers!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anya Josephs

    This was a fun and fast-paced read! I loved Kiki and the depiction of her anxiety (though throughout I wondered if anyone was gonna mention her symptoms were very consistent with OCD as well) and the use of Indian mythology. The author did a very skillful job of making sure anyone, whether or not they are familiar with the stories, could enjoy the text. My only critique is there were some big picture issues, like Kiki's concern for her mom and a character death, that seemed brushed over rather th This was a fun and fast-paced read! I loved Kiki and the depiction of her anxiety (though throughout I wondered if anyone was gonna mention her symptoms were very consistent with OCD as well) and the use of Indian mythology. The author did a very skillful job of making sure anyone, whether or not they are familiar with the stories, could enjoy the text. My only critique is there were some big picture issues, like Kiki's concern for her mom and a character death, that seemed brushed over rather than dealt with thoroughly, which weakened an otherwise strong emotional narrative.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ricki

    3 stars for me, "I liked it." Definitely 4 stars of respect though. Narnia meets Inkheart, Indian style. There's a lot to love: great protagonist, great fantasy setting, interesting characters. However, it never sat right with me that the protagonist meets the actual gods of India that people still worship and they're treated as though they could be real beyond the world of the book. Therefore, as with the book So You Want to Be a Wizard, and many mangas and animes involving Shintoism, even thoug 3 stars for me, "I liked it." Definitely 4 stars of respect though. Narnia meets Inkheart, Indian style. There's a lot to love: great protagonist, great fantasy setting, interesting characters. However, it never sat right with me that the protagonist meets the actual gods of India that people still worship and they're treated as though they could be real beyond the world of the book. Therefore, as with the book So You Want to Be a Wizard, and many mangas and animes involving Shintoism, even though I loved the story, I ultimately wasn't comfortable with the religious aspects of it.

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