Kiki Kallira Break a Kingdom – Sangu Mandanna

From the very first sentence within this book I was curious as to how the story would develop. I thoroughly enjoy books that gage the readers attention from the offset, catching them off guard, and drawing them in. “I had absolutely, definitely killed my mother. OK, maybe not definitely, but I was pretty sure of it. Like ninety per cent sure. Maybe eight-five.” This is the narrative of Kiki, a young girl that we soon come to realise worries about things other children wouldn’t even consider, and it impacts Kiki’s day to day dramatically.

The first chapter in this newly published title by Sangu Mandanna allows the reader to experience first hand the effect Kiki’s worries have on her, and the back story behind her having the thoughts and feelings that effect her, and readers come to appreciate that Kiki finds enjoyment and escapism in sketching, with the chapter concluding with the young girl picking out a new sketchbook from her mum’s art supplies at home, and the dramatics that occur as a consequence of Kiki beginning to make the sketchbook her own.

The story itself tells of how Kiki is drawn into the world that she sketches in her new book, and finds herself immersed within a magical city that is home to an ancient Hindu god that is determined to destroy everything around him, as well as escape the magical city and possess the real world, the one where Kiki calls home. Kiki works together with other children – the band of rebel kids – to try to stop the Hindu god from succeeding. All that Kiki has to help her is her sketch pencil, but is it enough to save the day?

The book features Hindu myths and legends throughout, and it is the creatures from these that can be found sketched inside Kiki’s sketchbook, and consequently come to life from off the pages – even a tea drinking lion! Combined with the rich, magical world that Kiki is drawn into and you have an incredible adventure story that readers will become immersed in, enjoying the depth and detail the book offers along the way, particularly as they accompany Kiki into the magical city of Mahishasura, and wander through the vivid streets.

The book focuses on and celebrates Kiki’s worries, using them as strengths, with the books title character not shying away from them, and this is a fantastic theme for children to read and appreciate, especially after the past 18 months they have had, as well as in general. At no point does the book suggest that how she is feeling is wrong, and portraying view points and opinions from all those involved with Kiki is a credit to the story too. Kiki looks to overcome her anxieties and ultimately focuses on her strengths instead, and this is a fantastic message for fans of middle grade adventures to read, and Kiki is a fantastic role model for children, especially children from the Hindu community that will take pride in seeing the fabulous cover of this book, depicting a powerful Kiki at the core, and a character and storyline that they can relate to personally.

I am extremely excited to share this book with children in my school library at the start of the new academic year, and I know this will be an incredibly popular title amongst years 4-6 at our school because beyond the books stunning cover is a story that grabs your interests from the get go, and maintains them throughout, all with a magical adventure at the centre. Brilliant!

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