Elizabeth's Reviews > Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

Moribito by Nahoko Uehashi
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Nov 01, 11

bookshelves: mc-international
Read in October, 2011

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi is a Japanese fantasy story written for middle schoolers. In the first book of the series, the protagonist Balsa is hired to protect Chagum, the second son of the Mikado. Little does she know that she will be forced to fight, not only the hunters of the Mikado and ancient spirits, but her past as well. Balsa must save Chagum and the ancient egg, defeat Rarunga the egg eater, and save all of Japan. Along the way she has help from Star Readers who can tell the future, Magic Weavers with magical powers, as well as villagers and their traditional stories that have been passed through generations of people that hold the keys to survival.

I liked this story, because it is fantasy. Most of the multicultural books we have talked about have been realistic fiction or historical fiction or nonfiction. This book was a change of pace. Additionally, while the main character is female, it is by no means a “girl’s book.” The supporting characters are male, in a society that is male dominated. As a strong female, Balsa breaks from the traditional. I don’t think that boys would have issue reading this book, once they got past the initial realization that it is about a girl. One of the weaknesses of this book would be the character names. There are many characters in the current story and many characters referenced from past events. Many of these names are similar, which makes the reading a bit laborious. I am not sure if these are the original names, or if this is caused by the translation.

This book would make an excellent read aloud for 4th or 5th graders. It would also be a good book to steer Manga lovers to, in order to expand their choices a bit. It has excellent themes of friendship, duty, for the good of others, and not being controlled by your past, respecting and treasuring tradition, or learning from past mistakes. Additionally this book could be used as a lesson in politics, parenting, or media, where people might change the facts to fit the situations and might mislead you. This book could also be used in a unit about storytelling and the importance early fables had in conveying “truths” or lessons.

Batchelder Award 2009
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Ruth Fantasy--my favorite genre. And this book is so interesting and well done. I was totally captivated when listening to, and reading this book. Your review is very thorough--thank you.


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