4 out of 4 stars
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The Kingfisher Story Collection by Quan-Hoang Vuong centers on a type of bird that hunts fish to fill his stomach. Through Kingfisher's life and his interactions, we will be able to catch a glimpse of Vietnamese culture. In this collection, birdies are not just birdies. Like us, they have things to worry about, and they have rules to obey. Let us see what we can learn from our feathered friends.
Lying under these trivial stories are many meaningful messages, satirizing the dark side of humanity. One of my favorite sections is about the creature called Guru Bird. He is very knowledgeable, and he teaches the village members "useful" tricks. He can even tell Kingfisher secrets that help him hone his skills. Needless to say, Guru Bird receives the utmost respect and admiration from the villagers, so much so that they ask to witness his real skills. When all a person can offer is their rhetorical advice, maybe they are not as trustworthy as we think so. Another one is the Sparrows' story. They move their nest to a human village to steal rice, and they live a good life with their food source always close by. Well, little do they know the price of free things. There are also several lessons that address the consequences of lobbying, cheating, arrogance, greed, luck, and sloppiness.
If you are interested in Vietnamese art, you will find some paintings here. Dam Thi Thu Ha draws the cover, and Bui Quang Khiem is in charge of the illustrations. They employed watercolor and lino print to capture the beauty of our little friends, mainly that of the protagonist.
I have no complaints about this book. With less than 100 pages and around 20 chapters, it is a quick but thought-provoking read. Sometimes, you will need to stop and ruminate on the content to find the hidden gems behind the words. Additionally, I only found a few errors, so the editing is excellent.
Given my enjoyment, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. As stated above, this is a compilation of short stories, using feathered creatures to satirize our human community. If you are interested in this theme, you can give it a shot. Since every society has its dark facets that may not be fully revealed, I think what the author offers can apply to numerous nations. There are no erotic details or profanities, so even young readers can read this.
The Kingfisher Story Collection
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