4 out of 4 stars
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As a bird-child who faced a paramount loss, in despair, runs away from her turbulent dilemma that conflicts her life. With her brother and new-found friends, she has to establish her once stolen identity in this folktale from the Meiji era.
In Kyushu, modern Hakata, Azuki, shunned away by a man filled with greed has no idea about her mother and brother's whereabouts. Grief-stricken, she laments her father's demise while her mother plans her escape. Shota, as requested, waits on his sister's arrival but misses her due to an ambush. As it turns out, Shota has to face unexpected ordeals to bring his sister back. What does Claire Youmans have in store for Azuki and Shota?
In these 188 pages, The Toki-Girl and The Sparrow-Boy: Coming Home shows how these bird-children were left to perceive their world alone. It's the first installment of The Toki-Girl and The Sparrow-Boy Series consisting of 24 chapters, isn't a stand-alone read. Claire Youmans' combination of children folklore, political revolution, self-discovery, and historical fantasy in this undivided, attention-grabbing novel leads to an awakening reading experience.
Written from the second person's perspective, Claire Youmans bring out the value of sibling relationship through Azuki and Shota. The sheer raw form of independence strike upon their unripe age define the downright hardships that any kid, at given age, would face. Claire Youmans uses her characters to add value to her plot's contexts:
Claire Youmans' characters and storyline associates the heart of the medieval Japanese culture. The use of a monk as a religious figure imparts the importance that Buddhism play within their society. Leaving titbits of lessons to learn, Claire Youmans implore her reader's mind by, strolling with them, using her characters' words and actions:“There are three poisons called greed, anger, and stupidity. If one of these three gets hold of someone, it can consume a person’s heart, and that person will do bad and hurtful things. It’s never a good cause to hurt others, not even to one’s self (p.68)."
A delightful aspect involves the interior illustrations composed by young artists. Though ideal for readers of age between 8-to 18-year-old, adults too may enjoy this heart-warming read. The struggles etched reminded me of the idea, It's the Hard-Knock Life presented in the musical Annie (C. Strouse, 1977). Claire Youmans use of simple language to present an elegant flow allows her readers to swim in this storyline. There were titbits of confusing sentences that can be straighten with another round of deep editing: its pages needs to be re-numbered. Claire Youmans used a dramatic pause for her ending leaving the adventures of The Toki-Girl and The Sparrow-Boy to be continued in its next installment titled, The Toki-Girl and The Sparrow-Boy: Chasing Dreams."Unselfish kindness is a great gift (p.7)", or "it was wrong to take someone else’s things without permission (p.63)."
As an engaging read rich with turbulence and clarity that will embark its readers on an unforgettable journey: it deserves 4 out of 4 stars.
The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy Book 1
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