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Xander and the Dream Thief by Margaret Dilloway ⇉ Everything I Loved in the First Novel

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
As I mentioned in my review of book 1, I was drawn to the Momotaro series because it features an Asian hero and mythology and because I love children's books. Xander's adventures remind me that people go through growing pains and become stronger individuals for them.

Note: If you haven't read the first book, there will be spoilers from that one!!


WHAT I LIKED


Everything I Liked from the First Book
Asian MC, Japanese mythology & culture, good family dynamics (minus the entrance of the mother figure), beautiful artwork . . . Momotaro #2 remains true to the elements that I enjoyed from book one. For more details, click here to read my review of Momotaro #1.

Character Growth
Xander is still a pubescent teen dealing with tween issues, and now he's one with special powers. He's quite the handful. That said, this provides much room for character growth, and Xander does just that. Young readers can relate to Xander's problems and learn how to work through issues.

Follows Events of the First Novel
I love how Xander of the Dream Thief follows through with events of the first novel. For example, the primary conflict in the novel is spurred by the after-effects of Xander's last adventure. Also affected are his relationships with friends, classmates, and family. (I'd talk more about these details, but that would go into spoilers!)


WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE (AS MUCH)


Adults are Absent or in Need of Saving (Once More!)
In my review of the last book, I explained how it's unrealistic that children would be the ones saving the day without help from any adults. This still holds true. However, I do appreciate how Xander is able to work through his issues and mature as a character. Sometimes, we do need to learn the hard way outside of parental guidance. And I appreciate his parents' love and understanding through it all.

Quick, Not Well Developed Resolution
Some of the issues are wrapped up too quickly. In particular, there is one big issue that was introduced at the end of the last book and which proves a problem at the beginning of this book. I was expecting to see more development on this issue; however, it was resolved at the end without us seeing Xander work through it. I wish that more attention had been paid to this issue.


FINAL THOUGHTS


Overall, Xander and the Dream Thief is an enjoyable followup to the first novel. As long-time readers know, I always appreciate a novel with good family relationships and Asian characters. I especially love how this novel isn't another episodic adventure in Xander's life but incorporates elements from Momotaro #1. I'm looking forward to seeing where Margaret Dilloway takes us next!

★★★★☆


Xander Miyamoto should be feeling great. It's the beginning of summer vacation, his mother has returned from a long absence, and he has learned that he is a warrior with special powers. Xander never would have guessed that the old Japanese folktale about Momotaro, the hero who sprang from a peach pit, was real, much less part of his own heritage.

But instead of reveling in his recent victory against the oni, monsters bent on creating chaos, Xander is feeling resentful. What took his mother so long to come back? Why does his father insist on ruining the summer with study and training? And why is Xander plagued by nightmares every night? Maybe this whole Momotaro thing is overrated.

Xander's grandmother gives him a special baku charm to use to chase his nightmares away. He just has to be careful not to rely on it too much. If he does, the baku will not only take his dreams, but those of everyone in the house, forever. Without dreams, there is no hope, no motivation, no imagination, no Momotaro. And then it would be far too easy for Ozuno, king of the oni, to wreak havoc. . . .

On his second quest, Xander explores new surreal landscapes, encounters more strange and dangerous creatures, and faces even higher stakes as he learns whether or not he has what it takes to be Momotaro.



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CHAT WITH ME


Would you rather have both dreams and nightmares or no dreams at all? Why?



Publication Info
  • Momotaro by Margaret Dilloway
  • Published by Disney-Hyperion
  • On April 18, 2017
  • Genres: FantasyMiddle Grade
  • Pages: 336 Pages
  • Format: Hardback
Series: Momotaro
  1. Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters
  2. Xander and the Dream Thief
Content
  • Bullying
  • Monsters that are potentially frightening for young readers
  • Violence (not graphic)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel for review. All thoughts expressed are my personal honest opinions.

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