Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes: Pandava, Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes: Pandava, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Aru learns about absent father in exciting installment.

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age 10+
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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Delves into Indian myths and legends of some of the supernatural characters the Pandavas encounter on their quest, including Aranyani, the Hindu goddess of forests and animals; Chandra, the god of the moon; Shani, the lord of Saturn; and Vishwakarma, the god of architecture. Also explains the Hindu festival of Holi. Glossary begins with disclaimer that this is just a small slice of what Indian mythology and legends have to offer.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about the importance of family, friends, and trust in others. Things that scare us can also bring us joy. Handling the anxiety of making the "right" decision. The goddess Rohini explains to Aru that "no matter what happens to us, we have choices.... We choose how to look at our lives. We choose what we can live with and what we cannot, and only you can decide."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Aru feels the pressure now to be the leader of her Pandava sisters and friends. She struggles with the stress of making the right choices, and with anger over the way her father abandoned her before she was born (Dad's the villain here too, which also doesn't help). Aru works through her obstacles in brave ways and builds trust with her new little Pandava sisters, twins who were orphaned and have trouble trusting anyone. Mini takes on a more heroic role here, too, showing she can be coolheaded under pressure, saving her friends, and being fine with not getting credit for it (everyone is made to magically forget her heroism). Characters are mostly of Indian decent. Two new important characters are described as darker skinned and part Guyanese. It's briefly mentioned in Book 2 that Brynne is bisexual.

Violence

Teens with godly weapons fight demons and supernatural animal creatures in fast-paced scenes. There are minor injuries, some major plummets from great heights, and characters are nearly burned and crushed. One character is drugged and kidnaped. Many mentions of parent loss and abandonment (twins have repeated nightmares of this loss).

Sex

Some crushes.

Language
Consumerism

Aru loves Home Depot and explains why. Mentions of lots of movies and books including Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, and The Grudge.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written bySerinna February 28, 2021

We can now start to grow up with the charecter.

This is what we were all waiting for. When I read this book, I got some serious HOO vibes. Aru is finally starting to make her own decisions and starts to secon... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byTheCoolestFish April 15, 2020

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?

Book details

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