|Pilar Ramirez and the escape from Zafa|
Author: Randall, Julian
While doing research for her documentary about her cousin Natasha--who disappeared in the Dominican Republic fifty years ago during the Trujillato--twelve-year-old Pilar Violeta Ramirez is transported to Zafa, an island where Dominican myths and legends come to life and where her cousin is being held captive in a sinister magical prison, and Pilar must defeat the Dominican bogeyman if she hopes to free Natasha and return home to Chicago.
Kirkus Reviews (+) (12/15/21)
School Library Journal (+) (03/11/22)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 02/15/2022 Twelve-year-old Pilar from Chicago is determined to bring closure to her family after the disappearance of Natasha, a relative who vanished without a trace during the Trujillo era in the Dominican Republic many years ago. When her sister informs Pilar that a professor at her university has been researching the many disappearances during Trujillo’s dictatorship, Pilar hops on a train to meet him. After arriving at an empty office, she begins to investigate the room and finds a folder with a single page that transports her to the world of Zafa. In this new, magical place, she will join the fight against the boogeyman, El Cuco, with the aim of getting the answers she has been searching for. Randall has created a story that helpfully introduces readers to a significant time in history for Dominicans, the Trujillo regime, a topic hardly mentioned in children’s literature. Driven by a fast-paced adventure filled with mythology, history, family, and friendship, this title is a superb addition to the fantasy genre, particularly those grounded in world history. - Copyright 2022 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 03/11/2022 Gr 3–7—Twelve-year-old Domincana Pilar "Purp" Ramirez is going to be an award-winning director some day. So when her older sister lines up the perfect interview for the documentary Pilar's working on—a documentary on Trujillo's dictatorship and the disappearance of her mom's cousin Natasha—she jumps at the opportunity. But when a file with Natasha's name on it sucks Pilar into the mythical world of Zafa, she's faced with a terrifying answer to the mystery she's been investigating. Set partially in a modern, rapidly gentrifying Chicago and partially in a world of Dominican legend, this first title in a new fantasy duology seamlessly intertwines the magic of Spirited Away and the danger of Jumanji with Dominican history and myth. Pilar is fierce, honest, and funny, a heroine readers are sure to love. VERDICT Action-packed and engaging from start to finish, this is a great next read for fans of Rick Riordan and Alane Adams. Recommended first purchase.—Kaitlin Frick - Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 02/15/2022 - Copyright 2022 Booklist.