Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wishbird by Gabrielle Wang

"A plate of crisp, flaky pastries filled with lotus-nut paste was placed on the table.  Then hot spring-onion pancakes sprinkled with salt. And after that, Lady Butterfly served up a bowl of sweet walnut soup infused with scented cassia flowers. Boy was a common thief who have lived off the picking of others for most of his life.  He had never eaten such delicacies before.  He bit into a small bun and licked the sesame seeds off his fingers.  The porcelain bowls and plates the food was served on were so fine he could almost see through them."

I have been trying to think of a word to describe the experience of reading The Wishbird. The word I have settled on is inadequate but I am just going to say this is a lovely story.

Boy is an Oliver Twist type of character who has been taken in as a tiny child by a man like Fagan who trains Boy to work as a pickpocket or lightfinger.  Oriole is a orphan who has been raised by birds in a far away forest.  Wishbird nurtures and cares for Oriole but now his life is in danger.  Oriole needs to travel to the city where she will try to ask the King for help.  These two young people will meet and their destinies entwine in the city called Solace or Soulless.  Many years ago the King lost his only son and so he ordered all the trees be cut down and all birds to be killed or banished.  Music and even musical speech has been banned as have all the pretty colours. The city is indeed soulless.

At its heart this is a book about identity.  Boy needs to discover his true name and family background and Oriole will find her mother was Nightingale.  To fully appreciate this connection I recommend you read The Nightingale by Hans Christian Andersen.  I also recommend taking some time to visit the author web site.  There is a little video of the book launch and an audio recording of a interview with Gabrielle plus teacher notes for this book. I highly recommend this book.   I read it in one sitting late into the night - such a special treat.

If you enjoy The Wishbird you should look for other books by Gabrielle Wang. You might also enjoy The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke, A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park or the Dragon Keeper series by Carole Wilkinson.

I am excited to see my blog has now reached 100,000 hits.  Thank you to my readers - as a blog writer seeing all those hits is such an encouragement to keep writing.

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