Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Children's Review: The Night Parade

I tend to lean towards European literature, so when an opportunity to read Katheryn Tanquary's The Night Parade popped up, I thought I'd better indulge in a new culture. I'm so glad I did because The Night Parade was among my favorite children's books read this year. The story follows Saki, a typical thirteen year-old girl who's forced to accompany her family on a trip to visit her grandmother for Obon, a three-day festival in which families honor the spirits of their ancestors. That's the first thing that I love about this book: it highlights and celebrates Japanese culture in such an interesting way. Tanquary wove the culture into the book so seamlessly that the reader can follow Saki's journey as she moves from resenting the antiquated traditions to celebrating the unique way in which the small village has remained true to its culture, all while learning an incredible amount about Japanese family structures and traditions. 

Saki carelessly (and accidentally) invites a maleficent spirit into her world with the opening ceremony on the first night of Obon. For each night of the festival, she ventures into the spirit world in an attempt to lift the curse. While she navigates the rules of this strange new world, she is guided by a series of spirits. During the day, Saki must also navigate the social scene in her grandmother's small village-- this is where Tanquary does an excellent job of capturing the young teen mindset and writing from that perspective. Saki's encounters with the other children her age force her to reflect on her friendships at home in Tokyo. From the lessons she learns in both the real and spirit world, Saki has a change of heart and finds herself more in touch with her family and her heritage. I loved the resolution of the book and found that the lessons hidden within were ones that young readers could identify with and reflect on after reading. The spiritual elements of this book place it under the fantasy category, but I felt that it was an unconventional type of fantasy. The connection with the Japanese folklore reminded me a lot of the films by Hayao Miyazaki, so if you've enjoyed those films I suggest picking up this book after it's publication on January 5th!

Bottom Line Rating: 4/5

Title: The Night Parade
Author: Kathryn Tanquary
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Price: Pre-order from Amazon for $12.98
Format: e-ARC
Source: Netgalley
Expected Publication Date: January 5, 2016

Note: Top Shelf Text was provided with a copy of this text by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

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