From School Library Journal
Gr 5-7–Seventh-grader Maya and her family have moved from Idaho to Oregon, where they're all hoping for a "fresh start" after the death of Maya's best friend, Stephanie. Maya, who used to illustrate Stephanie's stories of magic and imaginary worlds, now uses her art to deal with her grief. She is intrigued by the people who live in the apartment building next door, who seem too exotic for Oregon, and strikes up a friendship with those who go to her school. Things go from odd to odder, however, when she is visited by a fairy, which leads to a chance encounter at school and an alien egg attached to her arm. She soon learns that her neighbors are a family of portalkeepers–they monitor portals from other worlds–and the egg, called a sissimi, will hatch into a creature that is bonded to her for life. As she learns more about portalkeeping and prepares for the hatching of her egg, she comes to terms with her family's move and starts to see hope for the future. The realistic and fantastical elements don't always blend seamlessly, but the story's premise is intriguing, and, like the rather abrupt ending, hints at a sequel.Laurie Slagenwhite Walters, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Still haunted by the death of her best friend the previous spring, Maya must now make her way in a new town and, worse, a new middle school. Intrigued by the strangely dressed kids living next door, she finds herself opening up to them after an enigmatic, possibly alien boy at school magically implants a small egg beneath the skin of her wrist, making her the host of a rare, precious sissimi,a protector. Suspension of disbelief is a prerequisite for enjoyment of this inventive novel, which will sweep willing readers along in a strong current of narrative. As characters and events become “curiouser and curiouser,” the world of school and family becomes increasingly divorced from the fantastic realm Maya discovers. The concluding scene—which attempts to merge the two worlds—is, ironically, less convincing than the purely imaginative ones. Still, fantasy fans will find plenty to enjoy here, from the striking jacket art to Maya’s discovery of an alternate, magical reality. Grades 5-7. --Carolyn Phelan