Title: The Toki Girl & The Sparrow Boy
Author: Claire Youmans
Publisher: American I
Genre: Historical Fiction
About the Author : With a deep love for Japan and its culture, Claire has traveled there extensively studying the country’s culture and folklore. Claire Youmans is an accomplished adult non-fiction and mystery writer who has also written and edited numerous articles, engaging audiences for over 20 years. With generous doses of adventure, suspense, folklore and fantasy, Claire has brought their visually compelling story into book form.While working on a play produced in Tokyo, The Great Grateful Jizo, Claire was quite inspired by two minor characters – Azuki, a toki Girl and her brother, Shota, a Sparrow boy who became the main characters of her story.
About the Book : It is the first book in a box set of three that is targeted for readers eight-years of age and older. The main characters are two children, Azuki and Shota, who have the ability to change from birds into humans and back again according to their desire. Set in the Japanese Feudal age, It is an unwanted and long journey for the two bird-children as they flee their homes. Chizuyo and her husband, Hachibei have no children and they desperately want a family. It is through their good deeds, the blessings of the Japanese Jizo statues and through typical fairy tale magic, they came into guardianship of Azuki and Shota. The family of four is happy and content, until an evil sheriff decides that he wants custody of Azuki. They are separate from each other during the long voyage and each takes a different route during the course of examining who they really want to be in life. It is from there that the story takes off and forces Azuki and Shota to give away from all that they know and hold important in life. On their own different paths, the children discover their destiny, their likes and their dislikes. Along with the main story, runs another story that of a young Japanese woman, Anko and a western naval officer, Benjamin. Even though attracted to each other, both of them keep their feelings to themselves knowing the cultural and traditional hurdles.
My Say : Acceptance of one’s self is common theme by the author. By combining history and imagination, the author has made admirable efforts. This story is very imaginative and fanciful. The characters are distinguished and have their own, well written personalities who are quite magical creatures. The book starts off with a lesson of kindness that leads to a good fortune. From page one, I felt drawn into the lives of Azuki and Shota, following them on their journey to find their place in the world and accept themselves for who they are.
A wonderful read, full of magic and inspiration! I must mention the unique illustrations throughout The Toki-Girl and The Sparrow-Boy because all the awesome illustrations were actually created by young artists and by young I mean around 3rd or 4th standard kids!
As I told you earlier that I am not a big fan of historical fiction thus at times, boredom set in but it wore off with the introduction of the next mystical incident in the book. The Toki-Girl and The Sparrow-Boy is a delightful mix of folklore, fairy-tale, fantasy and thrilling history. A mix that Claire Youmans blends well and young readers will enjoy, the only con was that ending was little abrupt. Towards the end of the book, it seemed very much like the author was trying to rush.
While the main plot line had been somewhat resolved, others were left wide open. It was less detailed than the rest of the book and really didn’t make much sense. It was as though the author didn’t quite know how to end the story and because of that, I was left a bit disappointed.Still it was a fun and quick read. I recommend this book for your children because it will help them in expanding their horizons towards imaginary characters and also about the culture of Japan.
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Well that’s all for today and me Sonali Agarwal saying Bye to all my Readers!
Stay Curious and Stay in Love!