cover image The Scroll of Chaos

The Scroll of Chaos

Elsie Chapman. Scholastic Press, $18.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-338-80323-5

A Chinese American tween traverses an alternate realm to stop a grim prophecy in this mythology-driven adventure from Chapman (All the Ways Home). In Vancouver, asthmatic 12-year-old Astrid Xu plays the clarinet to help her control her breathing, and she hopes her upcoming solo will encourage her depressed mother, who’s taken to bed, to “get better enough to come watch.” When she finds an old volume of Chinese mythology, she thinks she might be able to bond with her mother over the tales. But upon encountering a scroll inside and breaking its wax seal, Astrid and younger sister Marilla are transported into Zhen, or mythological China, home to fabled figures they’ve only read about. There, they learn that Astrid has unwittingly released the demon Chaos, who plans to bring about a realm-ending flood. Agreeing to help defeat Chaos in exchange for obtaining an immortal peach to help their mom, Astrid, along with Marilla and two legendary allies, set off to save Zhen from a dark fate. Interstitials from A Handbook of Ancient Chinese Myth aid in the plot progression of this imaginative middle grade novel about changing familial bonds and finding one’s strength. An author’s note includes mental health resources. Ages 8–12. Agent: Victoria Marini, Irene Goodman Literary. (Mar.)