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Lalani of the Distant Sea

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  2,331 ratings  ·  504 reviews
There are stories of extraordinary children who are chosen from birth to complete great quests and conquer evil villains.

This is no such story.

Sometimes, you are an ordinary child.

Sometimes, you have to choose yourself.

This is the story of Lalani Sarita, a twelve-year-old girl who lives on the island of Sanlagita in the shadow of a vengeful mountain. When she makes a fat
ebook, 304 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by Greenwillow Books (first published May 7th 2019)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,331 ratings  ·  504 reviews

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Erin Kelly
Jul 26, 2019 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Hello, readers. I don't typically interact with my work on GoodReads, but several readers have asked for more information about the creatures in LALANI OF THE DISTANT SEA (which is such an incredible compliment and honor, by the way) so I wanted to share more about the folklore.

The creatures in LALANI are inspired by Filipino folklore, but are not direct depictions of them. With some exceptions, they are largely (but not wholly) born of my imagination. To learn more about how Philippine mytholog
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I will eventually have a full review up and ready, but for the time being, let's make one thing clear: This book is unapologetically Filipino. It draws from various Filipino folklore. It centers Filipino characters. It illustrates the importance of community and bayanihan, which are highly regarded virtues in Filipino culture. THIS IS FILIPINO.

I am genuinely pissed off at the reviews that write off this incredibly unique story because their ignorance of other people's cultures has led them to be
may ➹
3.5 stars

Lalani of the Distant Sea is lyrical and poignant, a truly beautiful story about bravery, community, and friendship. It’s a story that has so much heart and charm, especially with its characters. Lalani is just a twelve-year-old girl who has no hopes of surviving what grown men couldn’t, but she has so much spirit and I loved watching her journey throughout the book (both literal and figurative!). I really enjoyed the storytelling as well, with the usage of different POVs, and I also li
I wish I were familiar with the myths and stories of the Philippines, for I think I would have appreciated better how Erin Entrada Kelly wove them into this story of an island village surrounded by a dangerous sea and the brave girl at its centre.
There is drought on the island and fear and rituals aplenty amongst the villagers. Lalani is looked down upon by others, though she does have a few good friends. When her mother falls very ill, Lalani decides to find a way to heal her. She undergoes ma
Abby Johnson
Wowza, this books packs a punch. In this fantasy novel based on Filipino folklore, ordinary kids turn out to do extraordinary things just by having good intentions and never giving up. This is a dark, rich, powerful story that verges on scary at times. I'd hand it to readers of The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill for a unique fantasy story with crazy good world building or readers of The Thickety by J.A. White who like a dark fantasy with strong heroines. ...more
Sai at theengineerisreading
Have your ever read a book that connects so much to you it feels like it's seeing through your soul? In my case, Erin Entrada Kelly's MG fantasy debut, Lalani of the Distant Sea, will be THAT book. Because even though the narration did not clearly state that the story has Filipinx MCs and setting, the entirety of the storyline screams Filipino pride.

First, let me just tell you that this book is rich with Filipino folklore and mythology so wonderfully reimagined, it will make yourself more intere
Feb 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jail for everyone who claimed that this was like Moana. Jail for 1000 years.
Jan 07, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book with beautiful potential that seemed to be too long when I was reading it, but too short to tie up all the loose ends when it was over. It reminded me very much of Moana -- but a version where she waits to set sail when the movie is half over. Lalani had some beautiful imagery and themes, but it was also darker and bloodier than I expected and full of cryptic passages about strangely named creatures. It would have been great to have more illustrations of the shek, the wallecta, the pahaal ...more
Jul 02, 2019 added it
Shelves: 2019, middle-grade
The Girl Who Drank the Moon meets The Jumbies. So good!
I'm going to reread this. The audio and fable construct kept me at a distance. I never felt immersed with the characters, they often felt like vehicles to 'get the point across'. So many new terms and proper nouns were introduced it was difficult for me to keep them straight without the text in front of me. ...more
Aug 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: filipiniana
A story that certainly favors storytelling sessions with children for its engaging narration, relatable characters, curious creatures inspired by the Philippine islands and its lore, attractive illustrations, and its non-mawkish manner of imparting values.

"Sometimes, the only way out is through."

Rating: 3.5/5
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-h-to-m
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

For those of you who are about to read this expecting a light and feel-good adventure for you and your middle-grade kids, here's my warning: BRACE YOURSELF. If you are not sure about your kid's emotional maturity, then it would be a good idea to buddy-read this so you can guide him/her through the darker and sadder parts. "Lalani of the Distant Sea" had many heartbreaking moments. There were also times that I wanted to punch a bully, especially those jerks who got away wi

Dark and sad and just perfect. I love this a lot.
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inspired by Filipino folklore Erin Entrada Kelly's new book Lalani of The Distant Sea will keep you reading late into the night - kids get your flashlights ready! This is a middle grade fantasy novel which follows the life and adventures of Lalani Sarita, a 12 year old girl, who may seem quite ordinary but when faced with danger she bravely goes on a quest that takes her to a legendary Island where she finds the courage and the tenacity to persevere. Kelly has a wonderful way of writing about ma ...more
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lalani of the Distant Sea is a beautiful medley of folklore and fable. It is wonderfully written, and I found myself devouring page after page at every opportunity.

The book is darker than I thought it would be, which is in no way a bad thing. There is violence. There is death. But there is also a happy ending (don't worry; it's not overly cheesy). There is one character who got on my last nerve at points, but by the end of the book, he had redeemed himself enough to be deserving of a second cha
Don’t let the beautiful and bright colours of this cover fool you.
This story is full of dark Filipino folklore + wonder—just what my heart needed. Adorned with gorgeous illustrations, each page is rife with magic and heart. I can't wait for Little Me to read this, it's so up her alley: magic, a little scary, an adventure, brave girls, and some creepy but fantastic creatures.

This would make an AMAZING film. I could see it clearly in my mind the entire time I read. Think Pan's Labyrinth! In fact
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
The digital arc of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ website in exchange for an honest review.

I loved the other two novels I've read by Erin Entrada Kelly but this one is probably my least favorite one so far. I still really enjoyed it though, I was simply not a fan of the way it was structured and the fantasy elements were quite confusing, in my opinion. It was still a great story with an uplifting message and a rich cultural background.
Lisa (Remarkablylisa)
Apr 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: april-2020
It was interesting but then it was boring and dragged towards the end...
Blodeuedd Finland
When it comes to fantasy then MG works so well, they are always nicer, not angsty, and it is always the ordinary ones that save the day.

Lalani is an ordinary girl, not braver, not faster or anything else. She loves her mum, she loves stories and her friends.

She lives on an island and all those on the island dream of another island that is better than theirs. So they send ships so find it, but no ships ever come back.

The author draws from Filipino mythology, and that is a real treat. The book doe
Ann-Marie "Cookie M."
Fun middle grade fantasy novel with a strong female protagonist and a Pacific Island flavor. It has ecological notes, tasteful feminism, but is mostly about respect for others and the length good people will go to to right wrongs.
Erin Estrada Kelly is becoming one of my go to YA authors. I had a wonderful time traveling to the world she and narrator Lulu Lam conjured up for me.
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, 2019
There are some books
where you turn the last page
and want to start reading all over again.

There are some books
that are puzzling
yet throughout the reading
you develop a trust
it will all come together at the end.
And it does.

There are some books
who have characters
with traits you carry in your soul,
but hide to the world.

There are some
unforgettable books.
This is one of them.

Read it.
Trust it.
Allow your mind
to be taken on this magical ride.
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: youth-fantasy, arc
Where The Mountain Meets the Moon + Moana.
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A million stars to this gorgeous, heartfelt completely wonderful middle-grade. Erin Entrada Kelly is such an incredible author and her debut fantasy is a must-read for all middle grade readers. Lalani's story is inspiring and beautiful and fantastically woven with myth and hope. ...more
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful blend of Moana, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, a hiiiint of City of Ember, and Kelly's distinct take on Filipino culture and mythology. If I'd read this when I was twelve, I can imagine it easily becoming my favorite book. Reading it now, I still adored Lalani, Sangalita, and Kelly's world-building but the ending felt too rushed to actually be satisfying. Still loved everything leading up to the end though!

4/5 stars
"There are stories of extraordinary children who are chosen from birth to complete great quests and conquer evil villains.

This is no such story.

Sometimes, you are an ordinary child.

Sometimes, you choose yourself."

Lalani of the Distant Sea was such a feast for my imagination!!

I was enchanted by the marvelous little world of Sanlagita, Isa, and The Distant Sea. At every turn Erin Entrada Kelly introduces strange, vivid creatures, myths, devious antagonists, nerve-wracking adventure, and a livi
Ariel (Ariel Enchanted)
I loved this more than Nevermoor so does that make it 5 stars or do I change my rating for Nevermoor??!!

This was so good, I loved Lalani as a main character. I related to her in so many ways. And there was so much beauty in this storytelling, it felt like an experience. And I could picture everything so vividly from the colors to the smell to the sounds of the rain and what each of the creatures looked like. This was fantastic and I want to read it again.
I've seen this book being presented as a similar story to Moana (the Disney animated movie), but I gotta tell you, if you expect a fun little adventure full of songs and cute scenery, that's not what you're going to get. This is a particularly sad story with really serious and graphic descriptions of pain, loss, and violence. The dominant atmosphere is pretty much melancholic, sometimes maybe too depressing for young children. Personally I loved the characters, the Filipino mythology which remin ...more
Books on Stereo
Whimsical, ethereal writing coupled with a meandering plot made Lalani of the Distant Sea a chore to get through.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lyrically and wonderfully written.
Stay with this one. The beginning felt so helpless and grim and unknown to me. But I was intrigued by the Filipino folklore, being a fan of folklore in general and unfamiliar with these creatures and stories, so I kept reading.
I loved the chapters that gave the reader insight on the different creatures--the Weeping Loset and Ditasha-Vlod were favorites. Lalani's story of Anya with the shell made me tear up.
The idea of an ordinary girl having the courage to do so
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