The Way to Rio Luna by Zoraida Cordova

One more Latinx fantasy book that came up in my run during my recent Cybils reading.  This is a middle grade book from the author of the acclaimed Labyrinth Lost (YA).  

The Way to Rio Luna by Zoraida Cordova

The Way to Rio Luna by Zoraida Cordova. Scholastic, 2020. ISBN 978-1338239546. Read ebook on Libby. 

Danny Monteverde has grown up in foster care.  The only two constants have been his sister Pili and the beat-up old book she carried with her and read to him – a collection of original fairy tales called The Way to Rio Luna.  She always told him she would find the way there for real, so they could escape together.  But two years ago she left and hasn’t come back, leaving Danny considered an extra-weird kid to foster as he keeps trying to prove that magic is real in rather embarrassing ways. At his current foster home, which borders on abusive, his foster father threw out Danny’s copy of the book, plunging Danny into despair as he starts to believe that he will never find the magic after all. 

As he’s trying to escape from his bullying foster brothers during a museum field trip, he finds an original copy of The Way to Rio Luna under glass – with glowing golden arrows that seem to be leading him somewhere! He also meets a girl about his own age whose guardian, her aunt, works for the museum, so that the girl, Glory Papillon, is homeschooled at the museum as well as on her aunt’s field excursions.

The museum’s copy of The Way to Rio Luna is missing four pages.  And the last name on the checkout card in the back is that of Danny’s sister.  And Glory’s Auntie North is perfectly willing to drop everything else to take both kids in search of the missing pages – and Pili, over the course of which they meet many of the interesting characters from the stories in the book, as well as exploring places from New York to the author’s native Ecuador. 

There are some holes in this story that the jaded reader will spot pretty easily – I was able to guess right from the beginning who the Top Secret Villain was, for example – and the hunts for the different pages tie together pretty loosely. Most of the magical creatures they meet are more cartoonish than fully rounded characters.  Yet somehow, all of this came together for me into a sweet and simple sugar cookie of a book – just right for my mood in these troubled times, and a good choice for newer fantasy readers.

Danny Monteverde has grown up in foster care.  The only two constants have been his sister Pili and the beat-up old book she carried with her and read to him – a collection of original fairy tales called The Way to Rio Luna.  She always told him she would find the way there for real, so they could escape together.  But two years ago she left and hasn’t come back, leaving Danny considered an extra-weird kid to foster as he keeps trying to prove that magic is real in rather embarrassing ways. At his current foster home, which borders on abusive, his foster father threw out Danny’s copy of the book, plunging Danny into despair as he starts to believe that he will never find the magic after all. 

As he’s trying to escape from his bullying foster brothers during a museum field trip, he finds an original copy of The Way to Rio Luna under glass – with glowing golden arrows that seem to be leading him somewhere! He also meets a girl about his own age whose guardian, her aunt, works for the museum, so that the girl, Glory Papillon, is homeschooled at the museum as well as on her aunt’s field excursions.

The museum’s copy of The Way to Rio Luna is missing four pages.  And the last name on the checkout card in the back is that of Danny’s sister.  And Glory’s Auntie North is perfectly willing to drop everything else to take both kids in search of the missing pages – and Pili, over the course of which they meet many of the interesting characters from the stories in the book, as well as exploring places from New York to the author’s native Ecuador. 

There are some holes in this story that the more jaded reader will spot pretty easily – I was able to guess right from the beginning who the Top Secret Villain was, for example – and the hunts for the different pages tie together pretty loosely. Most of the magical creatures they meet are more cartoonish than fully rounded characters.  Yet somehow, all of this came together for me into a sweet and simple sugar cookie of a book – just right for my mood in these troubled times, and a good choice for newer fantasy readers.

About Katy K.

I'm a librarian and book worm who believes that children and adults deserve great books to read.
This entry was posted in Fantasy, Middle Grade, Print, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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