Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mock Printz: A Million shades of gray by Kadohata

A million shades of gray by Cynthia Kadohata

Notes from the catalog: In 1975 after American troops pull out of Vietnam, a thirteen-year-old boy and his beloved elephant escape into the jungle when Viet Cong attack his village.
The Good: This is a historical fiction firmly in the middle grade level which looks at a side of the war in Vietnam that is often overlooked. What did happen in Vietnam after the US left? It's also classic Kadohata. It's tender and the writing solid.
The not so good: Lets start with those notes in the catalog. The attack mentioned doesn't happen until ½ way through the book so they (and the flap text) dismiss the first ½ of the book! They are incorrect or at least misleading. All that is of course not about the book, but about the flap notes and cataloging summaries.

So why wasn't I thrilled with the actual story? For a story which takes it's title from the animal that Y'Tin cares for, it contained little about them. I never felt the personality of Lady, Y'Tin's family's elephant. The 3rd person narrator told the reader what she was like and what Y'Tin thought of her etc, but I was never able to connect to her. When Y'Tin had to contemplate sending her away to save her life, I couldn't feel his pain. None of the characters seemed to have much depth to them and that was disappointing since I loved Weedflower.

All in all this one will not be on any of my fav lists for the year.

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