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A Million Shades of Gray

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  708 ratings  ·  142 reviews
A boy and his elephant escape into the jungle when the Viet Cong attack his village immediately after the Vietnam war.
Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published (first published September 8th 2009)
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I was really excited to read this book for two reasons: it was written by a Newbery Award winner and it centers around a young adolescent boy in rural Vietnam immediately following the Vietnam War. However, I do not think either of those qualities of the book lived up to my expectations.

The plot and character development are scant--even for a novel of only 200 pages. I really wanted to connect with Y'Tin, the main character. I wanted to feel his anger and resentment toward the American soldiers
Kadohata, Cynthia. (2010). A Million Shades of Gray. New York: Simon and Schuster/Atheneum. 216 pp. ISBN 978-1-4169-1883-7 (Hard Cover); $16.99.

Y’Tin dreams of training elephants but this is Viet Nam and his father has been abandoned by the American Special forces with whom he worked. The Dega people and elephants face massacre by the Vietcong so Y’Tin and Lady, the elephant, begin a long and dangerous journey to Thailand.

Kadohata explores Viet Nam with her book Cracker: The Best Dog in Viet Nam
Logan Mooberry
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata is the touching story of an elephant handler, Y’Tin’s life during the Vietnam war.

For young Y’Tin, war was all that ever happened. There had been a war raging during his entire life. Even so, the war had always seemed far away from his peaceful village in South Vietnam. All until one frightful day when Y’Tin, his friends and village are captured by the North Vietnamese. Y’Tin is separated from his beloved elephant, Lady, and his family.
Kind of dissapointed by this one. Great start and a unique setting for YA lit. The Americans have left South Vietnam and the North are invading. Y'Tin's villiage must flee to the jungle in fear for retribution for their assistance to the Americans. Y'Tin flees with his elephant but learns that the jungle can make things seem crazy. Didn't like the way it ended abruptly. I would have like to read more about his village's struggles in the jungle. Did like the way the elephants were described and s ...more
“A Million Shades of Gray” is about the youngest and most passionate boy in South Vietnam, Y’Tin. This story takes place right after the Vietnam War, which has been going on for most of Y’Tin’s life. Y’Tin is captured by some of the North Vietnamese soldiers and this book tells the journey Y’Tin goes through to escape and find his family and the elephants he has been with his entire life. This book shows passion, determination, and gives some background to readers in the form of a story with a y ...more
This is a terrible book. It is plain boring. The narrator's tone is flat. There is no suspense. The characters are forgettable. Even the protagonist has no special characteristics. Everything is predictable. So main character's whole world was torned apart because of the war and then he decided move to Thailand, that's it? What was the point in writing it? Oh yeah, to paint a nice picture of the Americans and maybe get some $$ for it. What pissed me off the most is not how much time I had wasted ...more
Thirteen-year old Y’Tin has grown up aware of war. In his small Dega village in South Vietnam, he is known for being an acute tracker, just like his father. His father is a member of the United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races. But Y’Tin doesn’t want to be involved. He wants to train elephants. Ever since he has trained his beloved elephant Lucy, Y’Tin has dreamt of opening his own training school. When North Vietnamese soldiers invade, burning villages and executing people, Y’Tin’s w ...more
Preparing to attend the 2014 National Book Festival, I chose this title from the list of teen authors scheduled to attend. A boy in Vietnam dreams of being an elephant keeper. He earns the right to keep Lady. US forces have left Vietnam but promised the villagers to return if needed. Well, the Viet Cong is targeting the South Vietnamese who aided the US, so they come to our village. This was brutal to read after hearing a piece of Nixon's tapes where he said, "Who cares if the North Vietnamese k ...more
Hannah Norton
A million shades of Grey was basically about a young boy who is 12 and is obsessed with elephants. He was also known as the youngest elephant trainer. His first elephant was Lady and she was pregnant. They both loved each other. Y'tins dad worked with the Americans at one point. During the time, there was war between North and South Vietnam. At there village they were invaded by the North. Y'tin was riding on lady and looked back and thought he saw his sister there. He told his friend Tomas to t ...more
This is a very good book, but it is difficult to really say I liked it simply because the subject matter, the Vietnam War and after once the Americans left the people to fend for themselves against the Vietcong, is so hard to read. I liked the story, but the setting is, at best, depressing. It is also a perspective that few Americans probably have about the war, so it is an important book. In our current Iraqi & Afghani crises, much has been published about what will happen/ is happening to ...more
Adrianne Snyder
this is a good book about a boy in a Vietanameese village during the Vietnam war. the people train elephants for use in transporting and harvesting wood and items. the main character boy has dreamed of being an elephant handler all his life, and is finaly accepted into the group of handlers. he gets an elephant of his own and has lots of fun with her. ill leave the rest to you to find out for your selvs, but its a pretty good book. some things are strange, and it can be confusing, but its a pret ...more
"Sometimes, without even thinking about it, you step over a line, and on the other side of that line you find you've stepped into a situation you didn't want."

A Million Shades of Gray, P. 175

I always eagerly await any new literary offering from Cynthia Kadohata, and following on the heels of her fantastic 2008 book Outside Beauty, my anticipation for A Million Shades of Gray certainly was high.

Cynthia Kadohata takes us back to a time in Vietnam just a couple of years after American involvem
Y'Tin lives in South Vietnam after the Americans have pulled out from the Vietnam conflict. Because several of the men in Y-Tin's village helped the Americans, they are in jeopardy of being targeted by North Vietnamese and the Vietcong. Y-Tin's family is fortunate enough to own an elephant and Y-Tin's dreams are to one day open a training school for elephants. Y-Tin's village is attacked and while trying to get away with Lady, his elephant, he notices what looks like his younger sister standing ...more
Book Concierge
Audio book narrated by Keith Nobbs

Y’Tin is the best elephant handler in his village, a skill that takes courage, patience and intelligence. Still, his mother would rather that he spend more time on schoolwork than on the elephants. He is, after all, only thirteen years old and there will be plenty of time to decide his life’s work. Perhaps he will be like his father, who works with the American soldiers in the war against the North Vietnamese forces. But after the Americans pull out, Y’Tin, his
Jeannie Mancini
In the Central Highlands of Southern Vietnam live the Dega tribes, Vietnamese village farmers and elephant keepers. 13 year old Y'Tin is the youngest animal trainer of his kind and his charge is his beloved elephant named Lady.

Set soon after the Americans pull out of the Vietnam War in 1975, the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese are still soldiering in to combat the Southern Vietnamese, breaking the established Paris Peace Accord agreement. Y'Tin's village is ambushed, threatening the lives of
Ms. B
What happened after the United States left South Vietnam in 1973? What happened to the people who were left behind, the locals who helped the American soldiers and fought against North Vietnam? The very people who thought the Americans would protect them, the very people that we promised to take care of, in exchange, for their assistance in fighting the War.
This is the story of thirteen-year-old Y'Tin who is an elephant trainer and dreams of someday opening his own elephant training school. Afte
Jenny / Wondrous Reads
Before reading A Million Shades of Grey, I didn't really know a lot about the Vietnam War. I didn't know the politics or reasoning behind it, or the extent of the horrors that people experienced. Kadohata ended up giving me a history lesson of sorts, and for that reason alone, I'm glad I read this book.

Y'Tin's tale is one of bravery and hope, and is as much a coming of age story as it is an adventure. Nothing makes a boy grow up like being in the middle of a war and, as horrific as it is, the wh
Hazel Rochman (Booklist, Dec. 1, 2009 (Vol. 106, No. 7))
Growing up in a remote Dega village in South Vietnam, Y’Tin is as close with his beloved elephant, Lady, as he is with his father, who works with the American Special Forces. After the Americans leave, Y’Tin, 13, flees the Vietcong massacre of his village and tries to find his family and friends while surviving in the jungle and caring for Lady. For a story so packed with action, this novel reads very slowly. Kadohata has done her research–
In Cynthia Kadohata’s new novel, A Million Shades of Gray, Kadohata reveals the story of Y’Tin, a 13 year old boy who dreams of becoming an elephant trainer, and the hardships that he faces in his remote Southern Vietnam village. Y’Tin’s story takes place a few years after the Americans left South Vietnam and focuses on the trepidation and fear the villagers face. Y’Tin’s main focus in life is to become the youngest elephant trainer and maybe one day open his own training school. The effects of ...more
Patricia O'Sullivan
Thirteen-year-old Y’Tin is interested in one thing: elephants. His goal is to be his village’s youngest elephant handler and to someday open up an elephant trainer school. But the Vietcong and North Vietnamese troops keep harassing Dega villages, and life for both the villagers and the elephants is becoming increasingly dangerous. When Y’Tin’s village is attacked by North Vietnamese soldiers, he must make a choice between staying with his family or saving the elephants. As an elephant handler, h ...more
This is the first non-picture book that I have added to my "multicultural-childrens literature" shelf, but it does belong there. Though I would obviously recommend it for older students. (Since I use picture books to enhance music education for K-2, this book obviously wouldn't work).

Cynthia Kadohata did a nice bit of research before embarking on this tail of a young Vietnamese boy in the 70's who is a gifted elephant trainer. The characters and settings are believeable, and there is a bit of ex
Notes from the catalog: In 1975 after American troops pull out of Vietnam, a thirteen-year-old boy and his beloved elephant escape into the jungle when Viet Cong attack his village.
The Good: This is a historical fiction firmly in the middle grade level which looks at a side of the war in Vietnam that is often overlooked. What did happen in Vietnam after the US left? It's also classic Kadohata. It's tender and the writing solid.
The not so good: Lets start with those notes in the catalog. The atta
Y'Tin is a South Vietnamese boy who must escape from his village when the North Vietnamese invades and captures it.

page 93
paragraph 5
"Y'Tin wished that he had seen Joseph's family as well, but all that he could remember from those early moments was the kick on his nose. He gingerly felt his nose now. It hurt to touch.
His mind began racing. He was scared to sleep. Someone might kill him while he slept. It wasn't logical, but it was posible. Why else had the soldiers herded them all into
Megan Faust42854
In the book “A Million Shades of Gray” written by Kadohata Cynthia, Y’tin the main character reaching for a goal. His goal is to be the youngest of something. Not just the youngest of this but the best. He wants to be... an elephant trainer. It’s not easy to just be courage, patience and have intelligence. Y’tin had said “If the North Vietnamese or Vietcong ever attack the village, we should escape with the elephants” pg 43 You can see that Y’tin is also caring. He doesn’t just leave what is use ...more
Jul 18, 2012 Sarah rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: grades 6-9
Recommended to Sarah by: 7/8 list
It’s 1973: Y’Tin and his family live in a distant village in South Vietnam, and, for as long as he can
remember, his country has been at war with North Vietnam. While his father works as a guide for the American Special Forces, Y’Tin likes nothing more than to spend peaceful time with his beloved elephant, named Lady. In fact, he dreams of growing up and becoming one of the youngest elephant trainers ever. Yet things turn deadly when the Americans return home, leaving Y’Tin and his people vulner
mitchell k dwyer
I didn't know there were tribal agrarian peoples in Vietnam who were not officially involved in the war. I don't think I'm especially ignorant about these things, so I admit I was surprised to learn about the Rhade people, a tribe in the southern part of that country, some of whom helped American Special Forces to navigate the Vietnam jungles.

This is the best thing Cynthia Kadohata's A Million Shades of Gray has going for it. The story of Y'Tin, a young elephant handler who longs to quit school
Andrea Wickenhagen
In a small village at the heart of the Central Highlands of South Vietnam lived a boy named Y’Tin Eban. The majestic animal of his people, the elephant, fascinated him. All he wanted in life was to become an elephant handle. Y’Tins dreams came true when he became one of the youngest handlers among his village at age thirteen. Watching over Lady was the best part of his life, she taught him patience, responsibility, love, and friendship. The story is set back in 1975 during the time of war betwee ...more
A difficult read due to its subject: what happened to the people who helped the US in Vietnam during the war and stayed behind? This is a fictionalized version of what might have happened to a thirteen-year-old Rhade boy who loved handling elephants. It's raw, yet the voice of this child trying to make sense out of the changes in his life makes this book worth reading. It would be interesting to compare this book with The Land I Lost: Adventures of a Boy in Vietnam by Quang Nhuong Huynh.
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Cynthia Kadohata is a Japanese American writer known for writing coming of age stories about Asian American women.

She spent her early childhood in the South; both her first adult novel and first children's novel take place in Southern states. Her first adult novel was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Her first children's book, Kira-Kira, won the 2005 Newbery Medal. Her first published s
More about Cynthia Kadohata...
Kira-Kira Cracker!: The Best Dog in Vietnam The Thing About Luck Weedflower Outside Beauty

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