Author: Ryan, Pam Munoz
Twelve-year-old Max, who loves the legend Buelo tells him about a mythical gatekeeper who can guide brave travelers on a journey into tomorrow, sets out on a dangerous quest to discover if he is true of heart and what the future holds, armed with a treasured compass, a mysterious stone rubbing, and Buelo's legend as his only guides.
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|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.50
Points: 5.0 Quiz: 506684
Kirkus Reviews (+) (12/15/19)
School Library Journal (02/01/20)
Booklist (+) (01/01/20)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/02/20)
The Hornbook (00/05/20)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 02/01/2020 Gr 3–6—Eleven-year-old Maximiliano Córdoba lives in Santa Maria village with his father's extended family of stone masons. On the mundane level, he wants to join a fútbol clinic with his friend Chuy, but an abandoned stone tower—La Reina Gigante—makes him wonder about hidden refugees fleeing the neighboring country of Abismo. While Max's father is away, Max encounters a refugee, Isadora, and learns his family are secretly guardians who help people flee to safety. In his father's absence, Max determines to guide Isadora to the next stop with all the dangers that entails, partly to discover information about his long-absent mother. As always, Ryan's strength is in her visually expressive language. Readers can picture the village, the personified tower, and Max's journey through rough country. Poignant, memorable moments are created with just a few sentences. On the other hand, the novel is slow to start. Additionally, the imaginary country construct vies with specific details found in real life such as Catholic churches, fútbol, and a Portuguese water dog. The first half of the novel is an uneasy detente of this paradox. However, as Max and Isadora set out, the imminent danger and their growing friendship will pull readers fully into this world and make Ryan's story feel solid. VERDICT A gem of a story with timely messages whose main audience is educators and contemplative children. Nevertheless, a required purchase.—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 01/01/2020 *Starred Review* In a small town located “somewhere in the Américas,” eleven-year-old Max has been raised by his no-nonsense father and head-in-the-clouds grandfather, ever since his mother disappeared when he was a baby. Longing to find her, the fútbol-loving protagonist uncovers secrets about his family’s past and embarks on a dangerous mission to help a refugee from a dictator-led neighboring country find her way to Mañanaland. The two traverse rocky terrain, hide from those looking to collect a reward for the missing refugee, and follow the map that Max learned through his grandfather’s nightly bedtime story. In her first book since the Newbery Honor–winning Echo (2015), Muñoz Ryan crafts a lyrical, fablelike tale of love, loss, community, and standing up for what is right. The novel is told with evocative and dreamlike writing and features authentic characters who tug at the heartstrings. As the impeccable pacing keeps readers guessing, the timely story line will resonate, especially bringing to mind the plight of young people who have to travel long distances in unfamiliar lands to find safety. This story, infused with magic, reminds children that humanity thrives when people embrace differences and construct bridges instead of borders. Another unforgettable work from a master storyteller. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.