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Hamra and the Jungle of Memories (Hardcover)
A Malaysian spin on Little Red Riding Hood from the critically acclaimed author of The Girl and the Ghost, Hanna Alkaf.
Courage is the strongest magic there is.
On Hamra's thirteenth birthday, she receives nothing but endless nagging and yet another errand to run in the Langkawi jungle that looms behind her home.
No one has remembered her special day.
And so, stifled and angry, Hamra ignores something she shouldn’t: the rules of the jungle.
Always ask permission before you enter. Hamra walks boldly in.
Never take what isn’t yours. Hamra finds the most perfect jambu and picks it.
Of course, rules exist for a reason, and soon an enormous weretiger is stalking her dreams, demanding payment for her crimes—and Hamra embarks on a quest deep into the jungle to set things right.
For fans of Ikegna and A Tale Dark and Grimm comes a story of a brave heroine, a beguiling villain, fantastical worlds, magical adventures, and a journey that will remind you that hope, friendship, and love endures all.
About the Author
Hanna Alkaf is a writer from Malaysia, where the legend of the pelesit originated. She is the author of the young adult novel The Weight of Our Sky, and her work has appeared in Shape, Esquire, and Marie Claire, among others. The Girl and the Ghost is her first novel for middle grade readers. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her family and can be visited at www.hannaalkaf.com.
With her beautiful, poetic prose, Hanna Alkaf is here to tug at heartstrings yet again with this adventure full of rich cultural legends that also poignantly captures the feeling of loss in a post-COVID world. — Xiran Jay Zhao, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"Hanna Alkaf's writing is a dream in the best possible way. Her words will transport you deep into the jungles of Langkawi, side-by-side with a heroine who reminds us that honoring ourselves is just as important as honoring those we love." — Roseanne A. Brown, New York Times Bestselling author of Serwa Boateng's Guide to Vampire Hunting
"Hamra and the Jungle of Memories embodies the best middle grade fantasy has to offer, from one of the greatest living masters in the genre: profound emotion, gorgeous craft, and a journey worth the taking in spite of the danger that lies ahead. What a gift to be alive at the same time as Hanna Alkaf, and be able to experience this wonderful, intense and healing adventure as only she can write it." — Karuna Riazi, author of The Gauntlet and A Bit of Earth
“In Hamra and the Jungle of Memories, master of the contemporary fairy tale Hanna Alkaf takes us on a fantastical adventure through a jungle filled with wonders and terrors that ultimately leads to a particularly timely revelation—though the world may be full of uncertainty and peril, what will get us through is friendship and love. A remarkable book.” — Anne Ursu, author of The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy
"Alkaf takes a familiar tale and imbues it with otherworldly urgency, balancing immediate relevance with profound wisdom. A perfect blend of classic magic and contemporary storytelling." — Kyle Lukoff, author of Too Bright to See, a Newberry Honor, Stonewall Book Award winner, and National Book Award Finalist
"Hanna Alkaf takes us on an emotional journey of a fierce-hearted girl who must complete a magical quest. Intertwining Malaysian folklore with daring adventure, this well-crafted story highlights the beauty of friendship, the healing of forgiveness, and the gift of being fully human." — Karen Strong, author of Eden's Everdark
"An enchanting Little Red Riding Hood retelling full of heart and adventure centered around the importance of family and tradition and fiercely protecting the ones we love."
— Rena Barron, author of the Maya and the Rising Dark series
"Hanna Alkaf is an exceptional writer who brings her worlds to life with specificity, a delightful humor, and honest and unflinching prose. We are all lucky to be able to take the distinctly and unapologetically Malaysian journey this book offers. The impulsive and spirited Hamra is the perfect protagonist for the new classic that Alkaf's book deserves to be." — Shing Yin Khor, author of The Legend of Auntie Po
"Hamra and the Jungle of Memories is a triumph! A heart-wrenching, creative, and magical book steeped in Malaysian folklore; it is both an incredible adventure, set deep in a magical jungle, filled with folklore but also, at its heart, it is the story of a girl, learning how to navigate grief and heartache and all the feelings they bring up - including and especially - anger. It is also about the pure unshakeable power of forgiveness. I want to put this book into the hands of every child I see. That's how important this story is." — Ally Malinenko, author of Ghost Gil and This Appearing House
“[Hamra and the Jungle of Memories] questions what it means to be human, what happens to those who are not the hero of the story, and what it means to pay debts and take care of your community… This fresh take on Little Red Riding Hood is a necessary purchase for libraries and fantasy shelves.” — School Library Journal (starred review)
A retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” that manages to both feel distinctly Malaysian and capture and interrogate contemporary concerns, this is a tale of family, friendship, and sacrifice. Both mature and whimsical, demonstrating how magic and modern-day anxieties can intersect. — Kirkus Reviews
“[A] riveting jungle adventure by Alkaf, a “Little Red Riding Hood”–inspired Malaysian fantasy… Creatures from Malaysian mythology appear throughout, adding texture and imbuing the girls’ tale with peril. Alkaf employs lively prose alongside Hamra and Ilyas’s dynamic personalities and earnest friendship to deliver a tale about sacrifice, perseverance, and the enduring bonds of love." — Publishers Weekly
This is an immersive story, exploring loss, grief, and vulnerability as core human experiences. Thoughtful readers will likely contemplate the weight of being human long after they finish the novel — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Praise for The Girl and the Ghost: “Grippingly heart-wrenching and speaks to deeper themes of family, trauma, and friendship…a fascinating, page-turning tale.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Alkaf’s middle-grade debut is unapologetically—and beautifully—Malaysian… it sizzles with tension and safe-but-ghoulish imagery, without letting go of the heartfelt thread of love between a girl and her ghost.” — Booklist
"I can’t stop thinking about THE GIRL AND THE GHOST, a desperately beautiful novel about the many ways people can be haunted and the transformative power of friendship and love. A spellbinding story, told with an enormous heart." — Anne Ursu, author of the National Book Award Longlist title, The Real Boy
"Delightfully gruesome, humorous, haunted and heart wrenching, The Girl and the Ghost is an intense tale of grief, family, friendship and forgiveness.” — Robin Yardi, author of The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez
“An entertaining convergence of the supernatural with the everyday… touches of contemporary Malaysian life enrich the background: ethnic and religious diversity, layers of rapid social change, and loving descriptions of food abound." — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Praise for Hanna Alkaf’s The Weight of Our Sky: ?“This stunning debut from Malaysian author Alkaf filters Melati’s sympathetic internal narrative through a mental illness barely understood and poorly treated for the era, and the setting and secondary characters convey a visceral, nerve-wracking moment in time. This isn’t an easy story by far; an author’s note warns of ‘graphic violence, death, racism, OCD, and anxiety triggers’—but their inclusion makes it no less essential, no less unforgettable.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“This is a brutally honest, no-holds-barred reimagining of the time: The evocative voice transports readers to 1960s Malaysia, and the brisk pace is enthralling. Above all, the raw emotion splashed across the pages will resonate deeply, no matter one’s race or religion. Unabashedly rooted in the author’s homeland and confronting timely topics and challenging themes, this book has broad appeal for teen readers.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“At the sentence level, Alkaf’s use of first-person narration expertly (and, in some cases, painfully) places readers inside Melati’s head as she experiences internal and external horrors….Echoing contemporary race relations, the subject feels especially relevant. Alkaf’s immersive, powerful writing make this a must-purchase for all YA collections.” — School Library Journal (starred review)
“Alkaf’s succinct prose, peppered with unflinching details, is captivating, in this candid and open young adult novel.” — Shelf Awareness
“Melati’s growing strength gives hope to readers: If she can fight her inner demon and save the day, then they can, too.” — ALA Booklist