A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Everyone behaves nobly and selflessly. A female character acts as mentor to the hero.
Violence & Scariness
Several bloody battles, between humans and human vs. monster, with serious injuries. A man is beaten by a mob, and a tale is told in which a boy is torn in half by a monster. Violent deaths are referred to in stories of the past.
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A few instances of "damn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An adult drinks wine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there are a couple of bloody battles, with injuries to both major and minor characters.
Is It Any Good?
This story has been done before; what matters here is how amazingly well it's done, the panache with which the author carries it off, and the variations she brings to the tale. MORBITO: GUARDIAN OF THE SPIRIT follows a classic hero path: Sheltered boy is cast out of his home, discovers a magical destiny, finds a warrior mentor, learns the ways of the world, and journeys to fulfill his destiny against overwhelming obstacles.
Author Nahoko Uehashi, abetted by a brilliantly transparent translation by Yuko Shimizu, does a wonderful job. Set in an exotic, somewhat Japanese fantasy world that will be more familiar to manga fans than most other readers, and with a woman as the warrior mentor, the variations are many and fascinating. And from the very first page the story careens forward in the most exciting and satisfying way, almost completely free of the kind of clichéd and hackneyed writing that too often mars stories that follow this path, marking them as rip-offs rather than variations on a theme. Ten books in this series have already been published in Japan, so enthralled readers can hope for more translations soon.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.