What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this simple story, beautifully told, appeals to kids who like thoughtful character-based stories. This lyrical look at pre-Columbian Taino culture stresses the bonds of family and behavioral changes involved in growing up, and raises the issue of culture differences in a powerful way.
What's the story?
Morning Girl and her brother, Star Boy, may not get along too well. But when it counts, they stand by each other. Their near-perfect life on a Caribbean island in the 1400s though, is about to change forever. In alternating chapters, siblings Morning Girl and Star Boy take turns telling about their life and family living on a Bahamian island. Children of opposite tastes and temperaments, each can't understand -- and often resents -- the other.
But the ties of blood are strong. Through the crises of life, both large and small, the siblings rely on each other. One passage describes how, \"across the space between us, we made a fishing line with our eyes and each pulled the other to the center.\" Star Boy accidentally sets his father's canoe adrift, and is so ashamed that he tries to turn himself into a rock. Their mother has a miscarriage. The island survives a hurricane, and when the people gather to celebrate, Star Boy is humiliated and Morning Girl defends him.
At the very end, Morning Girl meets a group of strangers. Columbus's journal entry describing that meeting is quoted in an epilogue.
Is it any good?
This beautiful and powerful short novel makes a distant culture familiar and its loss quietly devastating. This is a simple story, lyrically told, with a knockout punch at the end that will leave you gasping. Despite their distance from us in time and space, their life is not alien at all. It is filled with the small crises and epiphanies that are part of any family: sibling rivalry, a miscarriage, a storm.
Despite her frequent annoyance with her younger brother, Morning Girl stands by him when he is ridiculed by others, and some of the most touching scenes are between these often antagonistic siblings. By the time the last chapter arrives, we have come to know these people well, to feel affection and understanding. Like the rest of the book, the ending is quiet and understated, and all the more devastating in its impact. This is a profoundly beautiful book, elegant and spare, that does more than any facts or diatribes could to make us see things from a different perspective.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about point of view. Did you like hearing this story in the voices of two narrators? How are their perspectives different? A third perspective is introduced with the visitors in the final chapter. How does that point of view compare?