by Silvana De Mari. English translation by Shaun Whiteside. Miramax books, 2006. This is a fabulous book. Yorsh is a young orphaned elf - the last one on earth. His world has been flooded out and he is wandering, looking for shelter, food and friendship. He meets up with a woman looking for fire and a hunter looking for companions. The book is divided into three parts, with exciting and satisfying adventures all around.
The really wonderful thing about this book is how full of hope and kindness it is. Each of the characters has talents and gifts that they are unaware of, which are revealed by the love and faithfulness of their friends. They all struggle with pain, loneliness and hunger but they triumph over all difficulties supported by courage and compassion. Even in their darkest moments, when disaster seems unavoidable, someone in the group has faith and an open mind to seek opportunity. Yosh has an infinitely tender heart. He believes in life and abhors violence. He teaches peaceful resolution to problems and inspires creativity in his companions. Although they suffer from every imaginable terror the characters in this book all find ways to contribute to a world of growing health and beauty.
I just love this book. I highly recommend it as a read aloud for third, fourth and fifth graders. I can imagine some wonderful discussions with children about the conflicts and solutions to problems that the characters deal with in this story. It has just the right mix of gruesome reality and optimistic, hopeful happy ending. If you like fantasy or know a child who does you have to read this book!
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