The Guardian Test: Legends of Lotus Island, Book 1
No reviews yet.Add your rating
No reviews yet.Add your rating
Common Sense is a nonprofit organization. Your purchase helps us remain independent and ad-free.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Guardian Test: Legends of Lotus Island, Book 1, by Christina Soontornvat (The Last Mapmaker), is a rare fantasy book that's perfect for the more sensitive readers ages 8 and up. The violence is very mild, with some sparring, some animal encounters, and a near-fall off a cliff. The main character, Plum, briefly mentions that her parents died in a capsized boat when she was very young and she's being raised by her loving grandparents. Expect many positive lessons about believing in yourself, caring for the Earth and its creatures, and avoiding shortcuts when hard work is required. At first Plum is so worried that she will fail that she forgets to look inward. Master Sunback teaches her how to quiet those inner voices in meditation class, saying, "You can't be anything if you can't just be."
There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What's the Story?
In THE GUARDIAN TEST: LEGENDS OF LOTUS ISLAND, BOOK 1, Plum is happy living on her remote island farm with her grandparents, talking to worms and helping the fruit trees grow, when she receives a letter. She's been accepted to Guardian Academy, where they train a select few to be magical stewards of the island ecosystems. Her grandfather sent in her application in secret and is thrilled that she got in. Plum, not so much. Sure, she has a way with nature, but she doesn't think she's so special. And when she gets on the boat that carries everyone to Lotus Island for training, she's sure she's not special at all. Every kid seems to know more about the Guardians than she does. And when the training begins, she's woefully behind. How will she ever pass the first test in just a few weeks? Those who don't pass, go back home.
Is It Any Good?
Young ecology-minded readers will savor this gentle series start where magic is practiced to safeguard the earth and kids get to turn into fantastical beasts. Well, most kids do, eventually. Plum, the main character, has the hardest time looking inward in meditation class, where this particular magic is supposed to materialize. Her mind is full of doubts, plus her main talents are helping gardens grow and communicating with real animals -- really cool, but her gifts make her stand out among the other Trainees when all she wants is to belong.
The Guardian Test moves along quickly, which readers who love a fast-paced plot will appreciate. A little more time getting to know some of the other Trainees would have been welcome, however, especially Cherry, Salan, and Sam. Detailed black-and-white illustrations by Kevin Hong have a lovely dream-like quality, especially when we see the hoverbots (hope those show up again) and visit jungle ruins with mysterious drawings. Kids will be excited to see what comes next for the Novices on Lotus Island.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the eco-friendly messages in The Guardian Test. Why do the Guardians protect the plants and animals? Why is that important?
Why do the kids learn meditation at Guardian Academy? Have you ever practiced meditation? What was it like? Are you like Plum with a very busy mind or are you able to quiet down and just breathe?
Which type of magic would you like to have: Hand (powers of great strength and agility), Heart (the skills to nurture and heal), or Breath (powers of the mind and the senses)? What kind of animal do you think is inside you waiting to come out?
- Author: Christina Soontornvat
- Illustrator: Kevin Hong
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Horses and Farm Animals, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-control
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Publication date: March 7, 2023
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 160
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: March 13, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Wild Born: Spirit Animals, Book 1
Multiplatform magical beast series is a good fantasy intro.
Skandar and the Unicorn Thief
Fierce flying unicorns help kids form fiercer friendships.
Forest of Wonders: Wing & Claw, Book 1
Talking beasts, bright kids pep up fantasy series start.
For kids who love fantasy and environmental stories
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate