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The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy by Claire…
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The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy

by Claire Youmans

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‘Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy’ by Claire Youmans begins as a whimsical Japanese fairytale. Youmans has captured the spirit of Japanese storytelling and, like the Japanese literature it is inspired by, the novel is charming in its simplicity and grace.

I enjoyed reading this novel for the intricate and interesting plot and for the insight it gives to Japanese culture from this period. The characters were likeable. In particular, I enjoyed the story of Shota, and his journey to find his sister. The secondary storyline of the American officer, Benjamin, and the Japanese girl, Anko, also added an interesting second layer to the story that I wasn’t expecting.

My only real complaint was that the novel finished quite suddenly. While the main plot line had been somewhat resolved, others were left wide open. While I don’t generally mind a novel leaving some elements hanging, the ending was a little too abrupt for my tastes.
( )
  KatieBeitz | Aug 9, 2014 |
‘Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy’ by Claire Youmans begins as a whimsical Japanese fairytale. Youmans has captured the spirit of Japanese storytelling and, like the Japanese literature it is inspired by, the novel is charming in its simplicity and grace.

I enjoyed reading this novel for the intricate and interesting plot and for the insight it gives to Japanese culture from this period. The characters were likeable. In particular, I enjoyed the story of Shota, and his journey to find his sister. The secondary storyline of the American officer, Benjamin, and the Japanese girl, Anko, also added an interesting second layer to the story that I wasn’t expecting.

My only real complaint was that the novel finished quite suddenly. While the main plot line had been somewhat resolved, others were left wide open. While I don’t generally mind a novel leaving some elements hanging, the ending was a little too abrupt for my tastes.
( )
  KatieBeitz | Aug 9, 2014 |
Showing 2 of 2
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0990323404, Paperback)

In a fantasy version of Meiji-era Japan, the country is in a constant state of change and chaos with the coming of the Black Ships and the opening of Japan to the rest of the world. It was a time when anything could happen, and probably did. On the southern island of Kyushu, two children who can turn into birds live with their adopted human parents. An evil feudal overlord kidnaps Azuki for the valuable white and orange feathers she sheds when she is a Toki-bird. Her courageous father dies trying to prevent her capture. With the help of the local birds and animals, her mother sets her free, but is also killed by the overlord’s men. With her parents dead at the evil overlord’s hands, a heartbroken Azuki flees. It’s all her fault! It’s her ridiculous ability to turn into a Toki-bird that caused everything horrible to happen! She destroyed her human family. Maybe she’ll do better as a bird. She’ll join her Toki-kin and give up being human at all. That will make things better. Won’t it? Shota, her brother, can turn into a sparrow, but nobody’s interested in his plain brown feathers. The best he can do is follow his mother’s directions and rouse his own bird-kin to help his sister fly free. But his mother is hurt! She is dying, and Shota can’t think about anything else. But before she dies, their mother tells him all is not lost at home or in the human world for either of her children. She will do whatever she can to help them, living or dead, and she makes of Shota a final request. Shota speeds after Azuki to tell her that they will lose their human inheritance and won’t be able to live in human society at all, ever, unless they return in time to claim it, and return they must, honoring their mother’s wishes. Shota plans to bring Azuki home whether she likes it or not. She is his sister! They must stay together! There must be a way for them to embrace their heritage, all of it — didn’t their mother tell him so? In her desperate search for her Toki-kin, Azuki visits egrets who send her off to the major Toki nesting grounds on Sado-ga-shima, far from their Kyushu home. On the way to a place she doesn’t know, unsure of her welcome, and with no clear directions other than “north and east”, Azuki weathers storms, encounters a fierce mountain ogre, and befriends a dragon who also has a secret. Will she ever reach her goal? What will she find when she gets there? Shota, smaller and slower, doggedly follows the directions from the egrets. In a dream, his late father comes to give him help in his quest to track his sister and bring her home. Shota thinks he knows where Azuki is going, but it’s far from a sure thing. She could join other Toki, she could make a wrong turn, she could give up the idea and do something else! Can he find her? Will he reach her in time? Even if he does, can they possibly get back before the deadline? He is helped on the way by sailors, finding in himself a love of the sea, makes a friend of a war-horse, earns some gold, and just maybe discovers a way to get them back in time to claim their human heritage, so they can live as themselves, even if that isn’t like anybody else.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:00 -0400)

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