Saturday, June 11, 2016

Kid Konnection: Return to the Isle of the Lost & Giveaway

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you the sequel to the #1 New York Times Best Selling middle grade book THE ISLE OF THE LOST.

Summary: Mal's an expert at intimidating her enemies, but she's broken the habit since leaving her villainous roots behind. So when she and her friends Evie, Carlos, and Jay all receive threatening messages demanding they return home, Mal can't believe it. Sure, she's King Ben's girlfriend now, and she's usually nice to her classmates, but she still didn't think anyone would be silly enough to try to push her around.

The thing is, it kind of worked. Especially since she and her friends have a sneaking suspicion that their villainous parents are behind the messages. And when Evie looks into her Magic Mirror, what she sees only confirms their fears. Maleficent's just a tiny lizard after her run-in with Mal at Ben's Coronation, but she's the worst villain in the land for a reason. Could she have found a way to escape? Whatever's going on, Mal, Evie, Carlos, and Jay know they have to sneak back to the Isle and get to the bottom of it.

Without its infamous leader, the island's even worse than when they left it, but the comforts of home-even a home as gloomy as the Isle of the Lost-can be hard to resist for recently reformed villains. Will the kids be able to beat the evil bubbling at the Isle's wicked core, or will the plot to destroy Auradon succeed? -- Disney/Hyperion

Last year, I had the terrific opportunity to participate in a group interview with Melissa de la Cruz. Her first Disney Descendants novel THE ISLE OF THE LOST was being released, and she shared with us about the challenges she faced writing about "new" Disney characters while also trying to stay true to the originals. I read THE ISLE OF THE LOST last year and really appreciated how well she did both of these things.

Before I tell you about her new novel RETURN TO THE ISLE OF THE LOST, I should probably tell you a little bit about the first book in the series THE ISLE OF THE LOST. Here's how I described it last year:

Have you ever wondered what happened to all the villains at the end of classic Disney movies like Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin, Snow White, and more? Well, THE ISLE OF THE LOST answers that question! The novel picks up 20 years after the villains were defeated and tells the story of what happened to these characters and what they've done since their banishment from the kingdom of Auradon. The villains were sent to the Isle of the Lost, a depressing and isolated place no magic. Unfortunately, the villains haven't really been rehabilitated; and they've managed to pass along some of their not-so-nice traits onto their children. The villains (and their kids) are hoping that the spell will be broken and that they can one day return to Auradon and continue their evil ways! 

I don't want to give too much away, but I think it's fairly safe to say that four of the villains' kids, Mal (daughter of Maleficent), Evie (daughter of the Evil Queen), Carlos (son of Cruella de Vil) and Jay (son of Jafar) discover that just because you were brought up to be bad doesn't mean you have to stay bad!

Ok -- fast forward to the latest Disney Descendants novel which was released on May 24th -- RETURN TO THE ISLE OF THE LOST. This book picks up where the last one left off. Mal, Evie, Carlos and Jay now are living happily in the kingdom of Auradon when they receive strange messages telling them to return to the Isle of the Lost. They suspect their horrible parents are behind the messages. And to make matters worse, there are a lot of strange weather patterns occurring that make them wonder if Maleficent isn't up to trouble again! It seems unlikely that Maleficent could have escaped from her prison; however, the four kids decide that they have to return to the Isle of the Lost to figure out what's going on!

RETURN TO THE ISLE OF THE LOST was just as cute as the original story. I love this cast of characters and I think these books are so clever in featuring Disney offspring. Once again, Ms. de la Cruz has done an excellent job of incorporating interesting Disney tidbits and characters into the story, and I can safely say that her references will please long-time Disney fans... like me!

This novel was fact-paced and action-packed and I do think it will appeal to readers of both sexes. (Having said that, I know my son says it's a princess book!) I love how much the main four characters have evolved from troublemakers to honorable citizens, and I like that they uses their minds and talents to fight evil. Each one of these characters definitely has their own personality, and I think that kids will be able to relate to one or more of them.

Finally, I think RETURN TO THE ISLE OF THE LOST has a lot of terrific messages. Not only have these kids been rehabilitated, but they also have learned a great deal about the meaning of friendship. There are additional messages about learning to trust your instincts, making good decisions, and having confidence that should resonate with both parents and middle grade readers.

Overall, I think RETURN TO THE ISLE OF THE LOST and THE ISLE OF THE LOST are terrific middle grade books. Highly recommended... especially to fans of the Disney movie!

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Giveaway alert: Thanks to the fine folks at Disney/Hyperion, I have copies of both THE ISLE OF THE LOST and RETURN TO THE ISLE OF THE LOST to share with one lucky reader. To enter, just fill out the form below before June 24th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will randomly select and notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!

Melissa de la Cruz ( is the author of the #1 New York Times best seller The Isle of the Lost, as well as many other best-selling novels, including all the books in the Blue Bloods series: Blue Bloods, Masquerade, Revelations, The Van Alen Legacy, Keys to the Repository, Misguided Angel, Bloody Valentine, Lost in Time, and Gates of Paradise. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


bermudaonion said...

I bet kids love these books!

Kate Unger said...

I saw this book at BEA, but I didn't realize what it was about. The series sounds really good! I need to read them.