Last week, author Kia Thomas (@kiathomasedits) put out a call on Twitter: for her birthday, help get her short story, Wings, to #1 in Amazon’s Literary Short Story category. For $1.29, I bought the book, and I recommend you do, too! (Looks like she got to #11 that day, which is awesome!).
The Hunters hunt.
The Elders rule.
The women care for the young.
Everyone knows their place. Except for one young woman. Every day, she sneaks away to a clearing in the forest. One morning, she finds an injured creature in her secret hideaway, and she decides to nurse it back to health.
But she is not where she should be, nor doing what she should be doing. And this will not be tolerated…
The power of the book lies in its depth of emotion and the complexity of the characters. The story’s short chapters are told in the first person, from the points of view of the woman, a hunter, and an elder. Thomas weaves so much content into such short chapters – I really felt like I knew the characters. I rooted for (or against) them; I felt connected to them; I saw and felt them learn and grow. Wings, in a completely non-pushy way, makes a statement about challenging societal limitations and allowing oneself the space to grow; about the ability to think for oneself and stand up for what’s right rather than what’s expected; about the willingness to show vulnerability. I particularly like how the characters process their emotions without necessarily being able to name what they’re feeling — they don’t need to, they just feel them, and assess them, and use them to make decisions about how they will act.
Overall, it’s a very emotionally mature story, capturing both male and female, young and old characters. I’m impressed by the depth of the writing and look forward to seeing more from Kia Thomas!
5 Stars! (PS – It’s worth your $1.29!)
Earlier this year I picked up The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl to read with my daughter (who is now 8), having been under the mistaken impression that it is a children’s book. Eek – it is NOT. It’s a good book, and I’m glad I read it, but I’m equally glad that she lost interest after a couple of stories.
The book is an interesting mix of stories, including several fictional stories as well as an autobiographical story and one true narrative. Overall, though, my feeling about the book is that it’s pretty dark. One story in particular follows young boys as they strap another child to a train track and watch as the train passes over him (!) – this story prompted my daughter to ask, “Mom, why would someone write that story?” My response was something along the lines of how there are bad people in the world, like those mean characters, and sometimes writers will write those stories to help them understand the bad things in the world. I told her that all stories present some truth from the world and have something to teach us, but that we don’t have to read those stories if we don’t like them. That was the last story we read together in the book, but I went on to finish it myself.
I give the book three stars, because it was well-written, engaging, and interesting…but not amazing and slightly disturbing. The autobiographical story is illuminating as to the author’s life though repetitive if you’ve read part of his autobiography (as I have). I do think it should be clearly advertised as NOT A CHILDREN’S BOOK, though!
I was offered a review copy and asked to review this charming kids’ book by the
publisher, TaleBlade Press, which was kind enough to send me an actual hard copy of the book (remember my aversion to ebook copies of picture books?). My kids were a little confused as to why the kids’ book that came in the mail was for ME and not them, haha!
Written by B.C.R. Fegan and illustrated by Lenny Wen, The Day that A Ran Away–published just yesterday, September 1, 2018!–is an alphabet picture book with simple, approachable text and engaging illustrations. It tells the tale of why Jet doesn’t have his homework – all the letters ran away! As one of a plethora of alphabet books for young kids, the text itself doesn’t really stand out to me. It’s not bad, but it’s not amazing either. What I DO like about it is the moral lesson–Jet’s teacher plays along with his “the letters ran away” ruse but tells him at the end that now the letters need to be punished for their crime… and Jet has to write them all 20 times instead of one! That’ll teach kids to lie about their homework, right?
The illustrations are what bring the book to the next level. They’re not perfect–for instance, my kids did not recognize that the “O” was, in fact, an “O” (“What’s THAT, Mommy?”), and I can’t say I blame them for that. Overall, though, each page is dedicated to one letter and is filled with little details to spark conversation and reinforce the letter: for instance, the “U” is a unicorn, sitting under an umbrella, with a ukulele on the ground next to her.
It’s a book I’m happy to add to our collection. For my almost-2-year-old it’s a great way to repeat the alphabet while the colorful illustrations hold her attention; for my almost-5-year-old, the complexity of the illustrations will give us a lot of practice matching objects with their beginning letters.
Thank you to TaleBlade Press for the review copy; check out Amazon to buy yourself a copy!