After hearing numerous students gush about Shannon Messenger’s middle grade series The Keeper of the Lost Cities, I finally have read the first book myself. It lives up to their hype. Sophie makes a likable, admirable, and relatable protagonist. An encounter at a museum leads her to discover her identity as an elf, and the story follows her adjustment to a new world, family, and friends. Though she feels like an outsider at her new school as much as she did at her human one, she embraces her abilities and explores their potential. Vaguely reminiscent of Harry Potter, I find this a brighter alternative. Messenger achieves a great balance between world building and character development, and I find myself tearing through the pages. I’ve acquired the next installment already and happily reported to my students I enjoyed it (and thanked them for the recommendation).