Recipe for a mouth-watering read: A family secret, a miraculous transformation, an Internet stranger, a friendly American scientist, and a girl with the strength to make it all come out right.
"The way to outsmart death, Elisa dear, is to turn into something else," says Elisa's grandmother, an actress with a flair for the dramatic. But when it seems as if Nonna might actually be changing literally, Elisa must uncover a series of mysteries: why is it that her mother and her grandmother don't talk? Where is the exotic island of Aldabra - and how can it help her grandmother? Who is the man on the internet so eager to know the details of Nonna's transformation? And how will it all work out? Find out in Gandolfi's sparkling tale of love, magic, and moxie on the canals of Venice.
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From one of Italy’s greatest authors for young readers comes Aldabra, a lyrical, imaginative novel about a family secret, a miraculous transformation and the girl with the strength to make it all come out right.From School Library Journal:
Grade 5-8–An engaging fantasy set in modern-day Venice. Elisa, 10, frequently visits her lovable, if rather eccentric, grandmother who lives alone and is always ready to enact Shakespearean scenes with her granddaughter. When she learns that her mother once had Nonna Eia committed to a mental institution because of her erratic behavior, Elisa is determined to protect the woman at all costs. Nevertheless, she is totally unprepared when Nonna gradually transforms into a Geochelonegigantea, an endangered species of giant tortoise that lives for more than 150 years. The unusual story takes on a bit of intrigue when the wintry Venetian high waters threaten to drown the tortoise while she hibernates and again when a reptile collector attempts to steal her. As is fitting for a Shakespeare-inspired story, though, "all's well that ends well," with Nonna Eia going to Aldabra, an atoll in the Indian Ocean, where she has dreamed of spending the rest of her now-elongated life with her own kind. The well-written story has enough plot twists and turns to keep readers involved, and they're sure to be intrigued by Nonna Eia's unique means of controlling her destiny. Gandolfi's descriptions are vivid and filled with interesting similes, but the vocabulary is sometimes quite sophisticated. However, the prose flows smoothly, and the story is easy to follow, so readers are bound to grasp the ideas behind difficult words. This thoughtfully composed, imagination-stretching novel will work particularly well as a read-aloud, and it is sure to generate discussions about the possibilities of genetic transformation.–Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
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