Zafira Panos is a spirited ten-year-old who dreams of a life full of mystery and intrigue. The cool part? She can actually PLAN her dream adventures—and this time she’s heading to ancient Greece! But things take a weird turn when Zafira inexplicably finds herself a thousand years earlier, inside strange hilltop citadels, where she has to fight hybrid racco-dragons, bizarre vine creatures, harpies, and homicidal kings. Things definitely aren’t going as planned and Zafira, along with two ill-fated Mycenaean princesses, must overcome one obstacle after another. Racing through colorful palaces, unique temples, and massive structures, Zafira uses her active imagination and don’t-give-up attitude in this journey through her subconscious, where she ultimately learns that the past can teach us a lot about ourselves in the present. "Zafira and the Birds" is an upper middle grade/art historical fantasy suitable for middle school readers and up—and anyone who wants to embark on an adventure while learning about art, architecture, history, culture, and mythology.
Plot: Middle grade readers will be easily captivated by the premise of a girl able to realize her dreams by traveling to historical and fantastical places. However, the author offers relatively little in the way of explanation. Additionally, the story's stakes are never raised high enough to create any significant sense of urgency.
Prose: Makrogiannis's prose style is breezy and swiftly moving. The story relies somewhat too heavily on exposition; as a result, readers may struggle to become fully engaged in the protagonist's adventures.
Originality: The author offers a few unexpected twists on an otherwise familiar story concept. Historical allusions to works of art and mythology, enhance the novel.
Character Development: Protagonist Zafira is plucky, well-received, and likeable, with an endearing thirst for knowledge. Supporting characters are rarely as fully realized.
Date Submitted: August 14, 2018