A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Roshani Chokshi's Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes is the third book in the Pandava series published by Rick Riordan Presents. This imprint was started by the hugely popular Percy Jackson author and aims to bring a wider variety of mythological fantasies to kids, written by authors who grew up in a particular tradition. Definitely read the first two books in the series, Aru Shah and the End of Time and Aru Shah and the Song of Death, before tackling this one, especially if you're unfamiliar with the vast world of Indian mythology. Even then, you may need the glossary in the back to keep all the Hindu gods and terms straight. Five of the characters are reincarnated Pandavas -- demigod warrior princes -- and are girls between 10 and 13 years old. Their quest to stop the world from ending brings them to the heavens of the Otherworld and back and involves much fighting with godly weapons against supernatural animal creatures. They fall from great heights a few times but are magically saved and incur only minor injuries. Expect many references to movies and books and to Aru's favorite store, Home Depot. There are also lots of decisions for Aru to make now that she's taken on more of a leadership role and she gets good advice about handling that stress. Aru also works through anger at her father for abandoning her before she was born.
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What's the story?
In ARU SHAH AND THE TREE OF WISHES, a mission goes wrong for the Pandavas with disastrous consequences. They can't stop the Sleeper's minions from hearing a clairvoyant recite a prophecy that predicts the end of the world. At least they rescue the clairvoyant and her twin sister in the process, who turn out to be the remaining two Pandava sisters. The two girls are 10 years old and have to stay behind as Aru and friends try to figure out how to stop the Sleeper before the Hindu holiday of Holi in just a few days. Their first stop is the office of Vishwakarma, the god of architecture, to get a key that can open anything. Aru finds the key exacts a price every time she uses it: her saddest memories of missing having a father surface. But now her father, the Sleeper, is never far away and his old memories magically surface wherever the Pandavas go, revealing that he'd been on a similar quest before Aru was born.
Is it any good?
If readers enjoyed the first two modernized Hindu mythology adventures, they'll dig this third quest that adds more talented Pandava sisters, more quirky gods, and more daring escapes. The new Pandava sisters are 10-year-old twins, one a clairvoyant and the other a fashionista who can talk to and manipulate plants. They're told they are too young to quest, but they come into the story later when their skills are needed. Aru, Mini, Brynne, their friend Adrian (wife to all the Pandava princes in a soul sense) and Adrian's pompous cousin, Prince Rudy, make a fun questing crew. Sometimes they kick butt with their godly weapons, sometimes they roll their eyes about Rudy's big ego, and sometimes they wallow in embarrassment over their lack of ability to flirt with their crushes.
Author Roshni Chokshi has a lot of fun with her self-conscious characters. They keep the story from getting too dark when Aru faces her anger and confusion over a father that abandoned her, a father who is now their enemy. It also allows readers that may be confused by the mythology to stay anchored to main characters they can identify with. Indeed, there are a lot of places and gods packed into Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes. It ends with a head-scratching cliffhanger that will pull readers into the next installment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difficult family situations depicted in Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes. Aru, Brynne, the twins, and Aiden all face different challenges with parent abandonment and neglect. How are their situations different? How are they the same? Do you think it helps them form a deeper bond to each other?
You often see main characters lacking one parent and often two in books written for kids. Why do you think that is?
Will you read more in the Pandavas series? What do you think is next for Aru and friends after the big cliffhanger at the end?
- Author: Roshani Chokshi
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Superheroes, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
- Publication date: April 7, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 400
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: April 26, 2021
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