Monday, October 16, 2006

What Mrs. N's Been Reading - Kino No Tabi

I get advanced reader copies of some books from publishers shortly before the book comes out. Some of you may have noticed them in the pile of free books for Teen Summer Reading. We aren't permitted to put them in circulation, but I can give them away as prizes. Sometimes I get great ideas for things to add to the collection, that might otherwise have escaped my attention. This book is one of those. It's Keiichi Sigsawa's Kino No Tabi Volume 1: Book One of the Beautiful World, the first in an 8-volume series. It's the story of a young girl, who takes the name Kino after a tragic occurrence at the beginning of the book, and her anthropomorphic (your SAT-prep word for the day;)) motorcycle named Hermes, as they travel throughout the countryside, always spending just 3 days in any one place. Each community that they come in contact with, has it's own strange history and/or customs. The book is actually a series of connected short stories, making it a good choice for people who like to read in short spurts then take a break, because each chapter could be a stand-alone story. In fact, as I was reading I was visualizing this being done as episodic anime. You'd think that would mean that I didn't stay up late reading this one, but it was so good that I was up late and into the next chapter because I couldn't put it down. I would suggest getting someone else to either read the book with you, or read it right before or after you do because it will generate some great discussion on politics, morality, and philosophy. But don't let that frighten you off - the stories are straightforward and action-packed, they just happen to also be extremely thought-provoking. The book is a translation of a best-seller from Japan. I'm always concerned when I pick up a book that has been translated from another language, because there are usually passages that leave you scratching your head wondering what language the translator actually speaks. No need to be concerned with this one. The translation was excellent. You never would have suspected that it wasn't written originally in English. The only downside is that I am out of money for the year for YA books, so you won't see it on the shelf until after the first of the year when new budget money becomes available. But Book 2 in the series is scheduled for publication in February, so it should be available at at about the same time I'm able to get this one. And of course, look for the advanced reader copy in the free books cart for next year's Teen Summer Reading.

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