21 June 2010

A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata

All Y'Tin ever wanted was to be an elephant handler, and at thirteen, he is the youngest handler in his Dega village. He has big dreams of one day opening a training school for elephant handlers, the would-be first in Vietnam. But war interrupts everything, and the Vietnam War is horrifying for Y'Tin's family and his village. The American troops have long since left the area and when the village is attacked by North Vietnamese forces, the community has few skills and resources with which to retaliate. Y'Tin, Tomas, and Y'Juen manage to escape to the jungle with Y'Tin's elephant, Lady, but the jungle provides little safety for three young boys. There are difficult choices to make, and Y'Tin must struggle with faith in himself, his friends, and his community. Sometimes one can't survive without giving up who he is and what he holds dearest.

Recommended to all ages, but likely to appeal mostly to those with an interest in Vietnam history, elephants, or cultural adventures.

Call number: YA KADOHATA

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

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