Wizard's Holiday (Young Wizards #7) by Diane Duane
I love this book. There are so many moments that I just adore and so many new young wizards to meet, including a couple of characters who have emerged as personal favorites. I am practically squealing with anticipation.
I loved "Wizard's Holiday" just as much this time as the first time I read it. Or, well, listened to it, since I first "read" it as an audiobook.
"Wizard's Holiday" begins in a fairly typical day-to-day scene at the Callahan house. The only things separating this scene from most of the other domestic scenes of the series are that this was the last day of school before spring break (which for some reason is two weeks, rather than one) and that Nita can hear Spot saying "Uh-oh" from somewhere, but she cannot find Dairine's sidekick anywhere.
It turns out that Dairine has signed herself and Nita up for an interplanetary exchange program without asking her father, her seniors, or Nita herself for their consent. As a result, Tom and Carl put a limit on Dairine keeping her inside the solar system.
Since the resources for Dairine and Nita to go on the exchange were set aside before Tom and Carl found out about it, now there are two open spots. Since Nita is not in trouble, Tom, Carl, Harry, and the Rodriguez family decide that Nita and Kit can take the spots (and Kit can bring his "adjunct Talent" -- Ponch), and they are sent to the planet Alaalu.
Alaalu is a planet much larger than Earth, but which has a much smaller population. The population of Alaalu is surprisingly peaceful -- there is no crime and wars are unheard of. The size of Alaalu also means that there are very few natural disasters. Because of these things, there is only one wizard for the entire planet, an female-analogue adolescent named Quelt. Quelt and her family will be Nita and Kit's hosts.
Since this is an exchange, the Callahans have to host a wizard or two (or three) of their own, and they do, in fact, get three wizards, Sker'ret, a centipede-like lifeform from Rirhath B; Filif, a conifer-like being from the planet Demisiv, and Roshaun, a humanoid from Wellakh. Sker'ret and Filif are very curious about life on Earth and are pretty easy to get along with. Roshaun is another matter entirely. He clearly seems to think that this whole thing is beneath him and has no interest in learning about Earth or socializing with the other wizards.
Of course, it's not all fun and games and tourism. Eventually problems surface and the new teams of wizards have to figure out how to work together to put things to rights. We meet another shadow of the Lone Power, this one female, named Esemeli. I don't know if it's right to have a favorite shadow of the Lone Power, but if it is, Esemeli is definitely mine.
And the new teams of wizards are truly fascinating, particularly the group that Dairine is part of. There is a shift in the relationship between two of the wizards that carries through into the next books in the series in a way that is, so far, turning out to be one of my favorite subplots.
Interestingly since the first time I read "Wizard's Holiday" was as an audiobook, I had no idea how to spell some of the words in this book, including "Alaalu" and "Filif," until I read the hardcopy this time. On the other hand, I would not have gotten the pronunciation of "Alaalu" that the narrator of the audiobook used out of the hardcopy. Both of the "a"s in the middle of the word are pronounced, which made me expect the name to be "Ala-Alu" or perhaps "Ala'alu" or even "Alaälu."