Best-selling author Rick Riordan introduces this adventure by Roshani Chokshi about twelve-year-old Aru Shah, who has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school.
While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she'll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur? One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru's doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again. But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it's up to Aru to save them.
The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?
This series kickoff, which is also the first book from the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, expertly channels the humor and action that have made Riordan's own work so successful. Twelve-year-old Aru Shah lives with her mother in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture in Atlanta. Aru's tendency to bend the truth gets her into trouble when three of her classmates dare her to light a supposedly cursed lamp called a diya, which awakens the demonic Sleeper. With the help of her guardian, a pigeon named Subala, Aru learns that she is the reincarnation of one of five Pandava brothers, each the child of a different god. Aru meets one of her "soul-related" siblings, smart but timid Mini, and they head off to stop the Sleeper from reaching Shiva, Lord of Destruction. With her quick wit and big personality, Aru commands the spotlight ("I'm an A student," she boasts to a doubtful Subala. "In the sense that she was a student whose name started with an A"), and Chokshi (The Star-Touched Queen) weaves an engrossing adventure that will leave readers anticipating the next installment. Ages 8-12. Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra & Associates. (Mar.)Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Gr 3-6—Seventh grader Aru should never have lit the ancient lamp. When she put the lighter to the wick, the world froze and she released the awful Sleeper. Aru is suddenly launched into the world of the gods and surrounded by mythical characters come to life. Aru discovers she is a Pandava, born with the soul of one of the five brothers featured in the Mahabharata. She also has a soul sister, Mini, to assist her in this quest—highly unusual for a Pandava. Aru and Mini must enter the Kingdom of Death to find out the secret that will destroy the Sleeper. Rick Riordan writes the introduction to this book that has a similar tone and pacing to his popular "Percy Jackson" series, but Chokshi brings her own sensibility and style. Using Hindu mythology as the foundation, Chokshi has created an exciting adventure around a coming-of-age tale. A glossary provides readers with a basic introduction to the various traditional stories that Chokshi drew from. Just as "Percy Jackson" led tweens to a deeper exploration and appreciation of classic Greek mythology, Chokshi's tale will likely inspire a similar demand for traditional Indian mythology. VERDICT An enthralling start to a series that Riordan fans and anyone in the mood for a high-octane adventure will love.—Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MACopyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
"Chokshi is a talented writer who breathes fresh air into her mythological world." — Booklist