A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Nahoko Uehashi'sThe Beast Player won a 2020 Michael J. Printz Honor. It's a fantasy novel about an orphaned girl who learns to train dangerous Royal Beasts. Set in an alternate version of Japan, the book is fairly gentle and contemplative until the final chapters, when the narrative culminates in a bloody battle. Elin is an engaging protagonist, dedicated to her beloved Beasts. There's no strong language, sex, or substance us.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
As THE BEAST PLAYER opens, 10-year-old Elin watches as her mother is about to be executed for having failed to protect the water serpents who play a large part in the kingdom's amy. Elin herself is saved at the last minute by her mother but is washed far away, only to be rescued by a kindly beekeeper, Joeun. Joeun raises her as his own daughter. Gradually, Elin learns that she can command both the water serpents and the dazzling Royal Beasts, and when she is sent to a boarding school, she learns why the Beasts are so important to the ruling class -- and how dangerous the animals can be with the wrong training.
Is it any good?
Stories about kids training wild animals come in all sorts of configurations, but this well-crafted, pseudo-Asian fantasy brings more imagination to the project than most. The Beast Player mostly moves at a measured pace, with Elin gradually learning about the care and feeding of Royal Beasts, magnificent flying creatures. Author Nahoko Uehashi builds the narrative's tension slowly, so that readers are well prepared for the changes that Elin goes through as she and her charges mature. By the time Elin becomes into a pawn in a civil war, she is ready to unleash the Royal Beasts' full potential.
Deft in its character development, rich in theme and incident,The Beast Player will appeal to readers who like human/animal stories, especially if the animal is as captivating as the ones presented here.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Beast Player addresses the topic of animal cruelty. Why does Elin refuse to use a Silent Whistle against the Beasts? How should animals be trained to perform for humans?
What can people learn about human behavior by studying animals?
How do governments attempt to change the behavior of their citizens? How can citizens stand up to the demands of their leaders?
- Author: Nahoko Uehashi
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Godwin Books
- Publication date: March 29, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 334
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: September 25, 2020
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