Islandborn is a book about self identity through culture. In her classroom children come from all over. The teacher assigns the students to talk about where they come from. Except Lola does not remember her Island.
To get an idea of where she comes from she asks everyone around her. They tell her all about the wonderful aspects of where they are from. Lola then begins to wonder why they ever left if their island is so perfect. Yet, one older gentleman in her community tells her about "The Monster." The specifics of what this is is not gone into. I feel that this is appropriate for the audience, but also helps this book to be more relatable to all children who immigrated from another country.
I love that Lola learns that she never has to visit a place for it to still be apart of her. I also love that she learns that places can be amazing even if they have a monster side. I also love that the author wrote this in a way to connect to all children who move countries. However, it is also a perfect read for children (and adults) who still live in their country of origin to help them to understand this connection.
The pictures were also bright and beautiful. They went well with the writing to make a great story.
Ocean Meets Sky is a beautiful picture book. While the story may not be the focus, I actually remember none of the dialog, the pictures are amazing. For this reason alone I rated it what it is. The words do complement the pictures, and do provide a plot. It is just that the beauty of the book is really in the illustrations. I loved the play of colors and the imagination in each picture.
I had never heard of Girls of Paper and Fire, or Natasha Ngan, before I received my OwlCrate book box. I was instantly drawn to the cover and captavated by the description of the book. The world of Girls of Paper and Fire is unique. There are three casts. The Demon cast are animal human hybrids and rule over the land. The Moon cast are a mix of human with demon features. Lastly, the paper cast, is humans with no animal features. Except Lei is born with golden eyes. Demon eyes in a paper girl. It is enough to capture the attention of a General wishing to win favor with the King. Lei is captured and brought to the castle to become one of the king’s Paper Girls - one of his concubines.
There are elements that are seen in other YA books mixed in with elements that are unique. The characters are vivid. I enjoy watching Lei’s progression. It is realistic, a gradual change that is impacted by her character and her circumstances. All of the characters in the book are equally real, even the ones that only show up for a page or two. You are drawn into the world of demons. Ngan says that she wrote the book to provide more diversity to YA literature. There is a strong Mongolian culture brought into the book as well as LGBTQ characters. I personally was drawn to the strong female characters and the choices they made even while they were being repressed both culturally and due to their gender.
The book does contain themes of sexual assault, although there are no violent descriptions. I was worried from the trigger warning, yet I felt it was handled tactfully, both to not overwhelm the younger audience as well as survivors of sexual assault. I feel like the emotion of the situation could have been addressed more, especially due to the impact on the progression of the book. It was addressed, just subtly.
Overal it was a great read. I look forward to continuing on with the series, and also going back and reading the other book written by Ngan.
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