Aladdin: Far From Agrabah

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 02 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

Another great Disney title! I love Aladdin so naturally I was very into this. The story was engaging and complex enough for more adventurous middle grade readers, but still had a lot of what makes Aladdin great with humor and romance. Jasmine feels much more fleshed out in this book and I love that she is strong, wants to marry for love, and wants to do what is best for her kingdom.
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Refreshing & Nostalgic at the same time.

Such a good take on a Disney classic. You get a slight taste of the original movie; while also getting a completely brand new story.
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This was cute, but it wasn't Earth shattering. It asks and answers the simple question "when Aladdin and Jasmine are flying around on the carpet, what would happen if she asked to visit Ababwa, Aladdin's fictional kingdom?" That's pretty much it. There are some weird interstitial chapters that I honestly skipped half of, and a random villain introduced that was your standard Disney fare, but it was pretty meh overall.
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3.5 stars. I love Aisha Saeed, and I think she did a great job of making this book accessible for middle-grade readers while bringing more depth to the characters (Jasmine in particular). I don't think this book will translate as well to adults, as Saeed very much caters to her target audience, but I think it's a fun read for those who have seen the 1992 film.
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There is a new Aladdin movie coming out, but this is not a novelization of that, but rather a story within that story. This is the story of the second wish, the magic carpet ride. It tells the story of what happens when Aladdin, posing as Prince Ali, takes Jasmine to on a ride, including a visit to his fictional kingdom. I requested this from NetGalley because we have so many young readers who wanted more of Aisha Saeed's work after reading Amal Unbound for Global Read Aloud in the fall. Once again, Saeed has written a strong female character in making Jasmine a young lady who is determined to lead her people and is not impressed with male authority figures who would lessen her role. While I did not really get into some of the plot, the parts in which she asserts herself and where Prince Ali/Aladdin shows his true colours (in a good way) have lots of redeeming value and there are some great messages here.
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I have and will always be a Disney fan. I love all of these new adaptations of the classic story. I loved seeing all of the characters stories expanded on more from the movie. This is a great in between to tide you over until the live action movie comes out. I wanted to jump on the magic carpet right alongside Aladdin and Jasmine!
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Probably 3.5 starts. I enjoyed this and I think many fans of Aladdin will as well. It gives more detail to the story of the movie as well as delves more into the characters back stories which I think only ads to enrich the story. 

This would be a great read for kids around middle school age. It wears a bit for an adult but it doesn't take away too much from the story - I was just very aware that it was written for kids and not adults when reading. So half a point for that - which is possibly unfair considering I'm not actually the target age but it impacted how I reacted to it.

I docked a point because there are a few scenes from the film that I think would have improved this read but for some reason were taken out (or simply not written.) It lead me to wonder if the author just figured that we all had seen the movie and therefor did not have to elaborate on certain things but I felt it detracted from the richness of the story.

That said it's a fun read and if you're a big Aladdin fan you will most likely love it! 

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy to review. :)
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3.5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and Disney Book Group for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review. 

If you're familiar with the 1992 animated Disney film, you'll fall into this book fast. The story picks up after Aladdin and Genie have met, after Aladdin and Jasmine meet at the market, and once Aladdin has decided to dress up as Prince Ali of Ababwa. In fact, we're about to get on that magic carpet and venture into " a whole new world." Genie is able to think fast and create his fictional prince, a fictional kingdom in no time at all. 

This book was a pleasant surprise because I really didn't find myself with a whole lot of expectations. I loved that Jasmine becomes this fuller character who wants to a good leader in her own kingdom. I enjoyed the tales that pepper this novel. Most importantly, I have a real craving to rewatch the film.
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Aladdin: Far From Agrabah is perfect for fans Disney's Aladdin. Aisha Saeed creatively reinvents the Disney classic we grew to love as well as retelling the original story of "Aladdin and the Magic Lamp" from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights. In Saeed's retelling of Aladdin, Saeed gives insight and a better understanding of the song "A Whole New World" beyond the magic carpet ride. There is more to Aladdin besides the wonderful music Disney can provide was with.

The novel starts with Jasmine scanning the hall during the Harvest Festival. She had just met Aladdin a few days prior. Aladdin: Far From Agrabah is an excellent retelling that not only touches upon some of the elements people love about Disney's Aladdin, but it creates a new parallel world where readers can explore the true spirit of how Aladdin and Jasmine fall for each other. Saeed's version of Aladdin captures the heart and readers learn more about the characters' backstories and personalities. Exploring Ababwa and seeing Genie's capabilities bring a smile to my face.

Aladdin is able to dazzle and wow Jasmine when he takes her to Ababwa at her insisting. Fictionalized Ababwa is an extension of Aladdin. It contains his memories of people and a history of himself. Yet, it also includes things that Jasmine would appreciate. Aladdin and Jasmine begin to bond over the memories of their lost parents. Aladdin invites Jasmine to help with an open advisory council meeting where the common people will ask Aladdin questions and for advice. Aladdin lets Jasmine be part of the meeting and treats her like an equal to listen and to dole out advice. The cartography shop is the icing on the cake for Jasmine. Aladdin is able to share desserts with Jasmine at a version of his favorite bakery. An embodiment of a younger Aladdin appears which Jasmine sympathizes with but Aladdin cannot let her know that it is him.

The curveball with the real so-called villain in the made-up Ababwa is perfect. It shows that even in an ideal world, it cannot exist without some flaws. Somehow a mysterious person steals the magical carpet which puts Aladdin in a difficult situation. I am sorry for readers who are hoping that Jafar pops up in this retelling because he is not the villain in this storyline.

The novel is told in dual POVs. Aisha Saeed delivers the thoughts, desires and emotions of both Aladdin and Jasmine. However, Aladdin knows that he cannot give everything Jasmine wants because his Ababwa is a kingdom of lies. This is a novel spanning a very short period of time. Aladdin: Far From Agrabah covers the time span when Prince Ali visits Princess Jasmine at the palace of Agrabah until the next day after the magic carpet ride. I highly recommend this novel for anyone who loves Aladdin. Enjoy the magical ride!
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This is a retelling of Disney's Aladdin. It goes into more details about the story that they couldn't get into in the movie version. This great for Aladdin fans.
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Thanks to Partner NetGalley for the digital ARC of Aisha Saeed’s Aladdin: Far from Agrabah in exchange for an honest review. The book releases on April 2.

I requested Saeed’s new novel for two reasons: (1) I (and the other hosts of Unabridged) absolutely adored her #ownvoices novel Amal Unbound, which was one of the 2018 Global Read Aloud selections, and (2) Aladdin is one of my favorite Disney movies ever. I can’t count the number of times my best friend and I watched that film when we were in high school.

I am, however, not a member of this book’s target audience, and I felt that vividly through the book. A middle-grade read, Aladdin: Far from Agrabah begins with an excerpt from the fictional Legendary Leaders Across the Ages. This first section details the tragic disintegration of the friendship of Sultan Waleed and his advisor Abbas, whose greed for power and gold leads him to betray his friend. In a structure that I appreciated, these tales from Legendary Leaders continue throughout the novel, reinforcing the feeling that we’re reading a story rooted in folk tales and history and reinforcing the experiences and lessons of the book’s protagonists.

Saeed launches into the story of Aladdin and Jasmine a few days after they’ve met, alternating between their points of view. Fans of the movie know that Jasmine meets Aladdin, a “street rat,” when she has disguised herself to explore the “true” Agrabah--with his knowledge of the streets, the impoverished orphan is able to keep her safe. Now, however, Aladdin has used his first wish from the genie to transform him into Prince Ali of Ababwa, a show off who is failing to impress Princess Jasmine.

For a while, Saeed follows the movie, which is both satisfying for fans and a little frustrating for those who want more. The author does effectively create a character in Jasmine who yearns for real leadership opportunities: she is frustrated with her father’s distant and cold rule over Agrabah and wishes that she could act as her deceased mother did to bring real compassion to her kingdom.

When Aladdin and Jasmine take off on their magic carpet ride (who else is singing “A Whole New World” in their heads?), Saeed begins to build her own facet of the narrative. Jasmine requests a detour to visit Prince Ali’s home in Ababwa, and Aladdin uses a loophole to convince Genie to make it happen. It’s in Ababwa that the couple truly connects and also begins to develop a firm idea of what it means to be both a good leader and a good person.

I appreciated so much the details of the kingdom of Ababwa, and the people Aladdin and Jasmine encounter teach them a plethora of lessons throughout their visit. It’s here, however, that I most felt my distance from the young readers at whom this book is aimed: the overly explicit expression of neatly encapsulated morals to the story left me wishing for more subtlety. These lessons fit more in the sections from Legendary Leaders but feel less an organic part of the main narrative. Saeed takes on compassion, economic disparity, education, truth, the importance of actions . . . watching Aladdin and Jasmine grow and seeing Jasmine become more determined to take on a leadership role in Agrabah (go, feminism!) offers clear character arcs but left me wishing for the more complex and nuanced Amal Unbound.

I do think many young readers will enjoy Aisha Saeed’s Aladdin: Far from Agrabah in advance of the release of the new film, and the novel will certainly enrich their experience.
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I love the story of Aladdin so I was excited to receive an ARC of this book.  This story is an Aladdin retelling that focuses mainly on Aladdin’s second wish. I liked how the beginning of the story closely aligned with the actual story and how it delved into its own story.  The descriptions were well done and I loved reading about the new kingdom of Ababwa. We got to see both Aladdin and Jasmine’s leadership qualities in this book. I felt the ending needed more to it as it seemed to be lacking. I am not sure what exactly I was expecting for the end but it wasn’t that as it seemed to end quite abruptly.
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A decent retelling of the familiar tale of Aladdin. I enjoyed the fact that the story was told from both the viewpoints of Prince Ali, (Aladdin), and Jasmine. It’s a pretty long book st over 300 pages, but the short interludes of other stories that give the storyline some context are great to break it up a little. I know this will be a loved addition to my classroom!
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So, first off I want to thank NetGalley and Disney Press for granting me the privilege to read an eARC of this in exchange for honest feedback. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I want to start off by saying that this book has a rough start that I was concerned with, BUT I completely understand why it did, now that I've finished it - more about this later. To give you kind of a synopsis, this is NOT a retelling of Aladdin. This is actually a story that takes place in Aladdin. For that reason, it reads kind of like a short story even though it's a novel. Aside from the first few chapters, this entire book takes place during the magic carpet ride that Aladdin takes Jasmine on. 

The book goes on to show us in a little more detail, what exactly happened that night. Including, a chance to see Ababwa (Prince Ali's "Kingdom"). It's a whole new adventure that doesn't interrupt the original story and I LOVED it for that. Instead of worrying about the story I love being twisted around in ways that didn't make sense, this book adds something new and creative to the story that can be believed in addition to the original tale. I think the idea for this was so clever.

Now back to my point about the rocky beginning. The book starts after Jasmine has already met both Aladdin and "Prince Ali". We hear her briefly speak of the encounters from memory, but we don't get to see Aladdin save Jasmine in the streets or cringe through Jasmine rejecting Prince Ali after his obnoxious entrance - which I was disappointed about. I felt like I was missing the first few chapters of my book, BUT mind you, I thought this was more of a full retelling. Then I just felt awkward during character interactions, because although I have seen Aladdin and I know how it starts, I didn't read it in this book. So I felt like the author was building on our common knowledge of the story of Aladdin, which is fine, but there wasn't enough info for anyone who hasn't seen the movie to know what's happening. However, once I realized that this was not a full retelling and just a story of the night of the carpet ride, I understood why the author made this choice, but I still think we should have started the story at a different earlier point and developed character relationships a bit. Either that, or just skipped ahead more and picked up practically immediately before the carpet ride. 

Despite all that, the storytelling of the adventure was great. An entire story that takes place during a scene that's just a song in the movie. Who knew there was even a story to tell there? Literally, A Whole New World.

There isn't much more I can tell you without spoiling it, but know that this story is new and exciting with the same characters we know and love. The genie takes a backseat and we really get to focus on who Aladdin and Jasmine are. In the fake city of Ababwa, we see the heart of what makes them who they are, we see their relationship grow (which makes the original story all the better and not as rushed if you believe this is how they fall in love), and we get to see Aladdin attempt to keep his composure under a lie that just about crushes him. There is a new villain on hand and a new adventure to unfold so I HIGHLY recommend this if you enjoy Aladdin. A FANTASTIC addition to our well loved story.

My full review can be read here -
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Where did Jasmine and Aladdin go that night their Magic Carpet Ride?  What happens when Jasmine wants to see Ababwa, the Kindgom where Prince Ali hails from?

This was a wonderful story about what happens that night.  We already know the story of Jasmine and Aladdin from the movies, but Aisha Saeed takes in depth to the night when Aladdin, still trying to woo Jasmine, whisks her away on the magic carpet.  After many glorious sites, Jasmine asks to go to Ababwa.  With Genie's help, Aladdin takes her to his made up kingdom.  

Jasmine has, most recently, lived a very secluded, dull, "safe" life.  Her father wants to keep her protected and out of harms way. We discover, that it was not always this way.  Jasmine's mother had been grooming her daughter to be a leader, including her on diplomatic meetings and such.  Jasmine misses this and knows she can do more to help her kingdom of Agrabah, but her father, and his advisor won't let her. 

Aladdin, who became an orphan at a young age, has many ideas of how he would improve life for the citizens of Agrabah with no way to implement them. When Genie creates Ababwa in Aladdin's eyes, and he has the chance to see his ideas in action, as does Jasmine.  In fact, the two of them work together to create new ideas and plans how to help both Ababwa and Agrabah citizens. 
Over time, Jasmine is reinvigorated about how she can lead Agrabah and is excited to return home to help her father lead. Meanwhile,  Aladdin is realizing that the love and notoriety of being the Prince of Ababwa is feeling empty and shallow, as he knows it is all a creation of the Genie, he desires to work at being that person in reality.  He knows he has to earn Jasmine's faith and admiration as Aladdin, not Prince Ali.

The story never rectifies how Aladdin tells Jasmine, but as in the scope of the storyline, it wasn't covered in the book.
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Aladdin Far From Agrabah tells the tale of Aladdin's second wish. Will Jasmine recognize Prince Ali on their travels on the magic carpet? This is a sweet story. Princess Jasmine is definitely a smart young woman who is not necessarily looking for love. She is refreshing. 
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Hyperion for the ARC.
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It was okay. I felt it dragged. I found the random legends disjointed. And while for almost all of them, I could trace some evidence of how they pertained to the main plot, I felt they were unnecessary delays.
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It was a delight to take a magic carpet ride with Aladdin and Jasmine and visit the fictional kingdom of Ababwa. Included with their story were chapters telling of other kingdoms -- some characters crossed over to interact with Aladdin and Jasmine while some did not. It seemed a bit disorganized. Also since I was viewing an ARC I missed out on all the illustrations that would have elevated the effect of the narrative. Readers who love the story of Aladdin will fall in love with this tale, but it will not appeal as much to those who are not big fans.

A big thank you to Disney Press and NetGalley for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I really enjoyed this fresh take on Aladdin. I have always been a huge fan of the movie so revisiting this world made me feel like a child again. Aladdin: Far From Agrabah is sure to be a hit with the midgrade audience. The writing was on par for mid-grade novels, and It was relatively fast-paced, One thing that I enjoyed the most was the fact that it added a new story to a classic Disney movie.  I forgot how much I missed Aladdin so it was fun to take a few days revisiting old friends. One thing that I really wished this novel had was more of the back story. I felt that this book needed background. If I didn't grow up watching Aladdin as a child, I would have never known what was going on. I desperately wanted the background and I feel that this book does a disservice to readers who have never explored Agrabah before. 

Ultimately, I enjoyed the book. It was fast-paced and easy to read. It is sure to be a favorite amongst midgrade novels who have watched Aladdin.
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With the release of their live action film around the corner, Disney is hyping up tweens and teens with this soon to be published chapter book tie-in. Aisha Saeed pens the novel, a notable children’s author with popular middle grade titles, Amal Unbound and Written in the Stars, under her belt.

The story opens with Jasmine passing out candy at The Harvest Festival, lusting after Aladdin, the black haired boy with the warm brown eyes, whom she had escaped the palace with and explored the city with a few days ago. Jasmine’s mother, the Queen, tragically died when she was a child, so she has grown up with just her King father. She takes her role as future sultana seriously, and is very annoyed her father is so concerned with her marrying; Jasmine would rather be reading, than being paired up with possible suitors…although she did surprisingly enjoy dancing with Prince Ali of Ababwa. In reality, of course, Prince Ali is Aladdin–bewitched from street rat to prince by Genie of the golden lamp. Suddenly, after a lifetime of cynicism, Jasmine is full of trust in Aladdin and what he represents to her–adventure, magic, and the possibility of love in an equal partnership. The only problem is, the trust is misleading as he is lying to her about his princedom. Interspersed with tales of, Legendary Leaders Throughout the Ages, as Jasmine and Aladdin have their adventure, readers will be kept engrossed and will want to know how the tale ends.

Not to be brushed off as just a fluffy piece of marketing, Saeed does a great job making the novel a story worth reading– a separate work of art from the movie. At times laugh out loud funny, touching, and heart-warming, Saeed introduces a new generation to the classic tale, while stamping it as her own. Those familiar with the original Aladdin movie of the 90’s will find this enjoyable as well. Not to be missed!
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