Two lonely preteens meet in Sisterland, a beguiling world of wonders, and begin to forget their snowbound world and the families they left behind.
Alice is following wolf tracks that have appeared from nowhere when she falls through the snow, losing consciousness and then awakening to a night sky sparkling with stars and five moons. The tracks belong to a shape-shifter who gives her a key to open the gate to the Garden of Secrets. Inside, she finds Marissa, a strange girl who’s arrived the same way. It’s always summer in this lush and forested garden, home to the inquisitive question flowers, wind fairies, dream weavers, singing roses—and it’s constantly changing. Exploring its dreamlike wonders together, the girls grow close. As they lose track of time, they’re occasionally troubled—Alice especially—by memories and dreams of the world and families they barely remember. Their idyll’s interrupted when they’re told the powerful queen ruling Sisterland is sending the snow that’s overwhelmed their world and only the girls can save it. When their difficult quest leads to a tragic separation, the way forward is less clear. Well served by Witesman’s supple translation from Finnish, Simukka incorporates elements from classic children’s literature inventively. The enticing setting, quirky creatures, and humans (who default to white) are entertaining, but the passionate friendship is the story’s heart, providing emotional heft.
A girl-centered hero’s journey, at once princess-free and enchanting. (Fantasy. 8-12)