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MEETING by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

MEETING

From the Magic Next Door series, volume 2

By Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-670-01283-1
Publisher: Viking

An everyday seventh grader has a secret alien best friend and a house full of magic-wielding mentors next-door.

Maya never expected to recover from the death of her best friend Stephanie, but accidentally bonding with Rimi completely changed her life (Thresholds, 2010). Rimi is sissimi, a young alien who communicates telepathically with Maya and hides as Maya's shadow—if a shadow could eat, move objects and draw. Not only is Rimi a wonderful new best friend, she's introduced Maya to her neighbors in Janus House, where Maya is now learning to be a magical practitioner so that she can one day to travel to alien worlds. Maya’s adventures are sheer, joyful middle-school–meets-magic. She's concerned about making friends at school, her art and piano lessons, meeting aliens after classes, the embarrassment when Rimi telekinetically makes her burp, having the best Halloween costume and a mean classmate who also has a bonded sissimi. Though Maya is often confused by the plethora of alien concepts she's expected to understand (Rimi constantly uses undefined words), she finds her new responsibilities and friendships thrilling. The discombobulated mystery of who the bad guys are (presumably to be discovered later in the series) is almost incidental to the daily adventures of an ordinary girl with a shadow from another planet.

Lovely worldbuilding, an appealing heroine and detail that's refreshingly practical in its approach to the fantastic make this one stand out. (Science fantasy. 9-11)