4 out of 4 stars
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The Toki Girl and the Sparrow Boy Book 4 by Claire Youmans is set in Japan during the Meiji era.The fourth book of a series, the story is written in the third person and told through various characters.
Azuki has the ability to transform into a Toki, a Japanese crested ibis, and her brother, Shota, can transform into a sparrow. Together, they accompany Renko, the Dragon Princess, to Tokyo to find an outfit for Yuta, the uncle of Azuki and Shota. They manage to buy some fabric in hopes of sewing together an outfit, but they realize that it’s more difficult than it looks. Meanwhile, Yuta goes to visit the Dragon King who helps him on his journey to Tokyo. In Tokyo, Yuta attends a conference that will change education in Japan, but he soon discovers that education is not the only thing changing in Japan. As he struggles to guide his family through the challenges that surround them, he finds himself drawn to a woman who seems to be holding a secret.
Although this book is listed under the young adult genre, I think it is more suited under the children’s genre. This is a great book for kids because it not only includes adventure, conflicts, and suspense, but it also provides information on Japanese culture and history. I love how the author masterfully blended Japanese culture, folklore, fantasy, and history together to make an interesting, but fictional story. The author also incorporated the struggles that many Japanese people faced when Western influences started to immerse into Japanese culture. I found the glossary at the end of the book to be helpful in defining a couple of Japanese words used in the book.
Moreover, I found the characters to be well developed and relatable. The author provided enough information on the background stories of the characters, so it was easy to keep up with the story. Although there were multiple characters in the book, I didn’t find it difficult to keep track of all the characters. I also liked how the author put a lot of details into the characters and their personalities. Each character had their own internal and external struggles, but they worked together to overcome them.
Although this is the fourth book of the series, this book makes a great stand alone novel. I have not read the previous books in the series, but I found this book easy to read. It is not necessary to read the previous books of the series to understand what was going on in this book. There is also a summary of the three previous books at the beginning of the book as well as a list of the characters.
Overall, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I found this book to be captivating and original. There were even pictures of Japanese artwork in the beginning of every chapter, and they seemed to go along the story. Unfortunately, most of these pictures were blurry. I also noticed a few grammatical errors, but they didn't detract from the book. I would recommend this book to those who like to read adventure stories or are interested in Japanese culture.
The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book 4
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