January 5, 2016
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In the shadow of the forest, the Night Parade marches on…
The last thing Saki Yamamoto wants to do for her summer vacation is trade in exciting Tokyo for the antiquated rituals and bad cell reception of her grandmother’s remote mountain village. Preparing for the Obon ceremony is boring. Then the local kids take an interest in Saki, and she sees an opportunity for some fun, even if it means disrespecting her family’s ancestral shrine on a malicious dare.
But as Saki rings the sacred bell, the darkness shifts. A death curse has been invoked…and Saki has three nights to undo it. With the help of three spirit guides and some unexpected friends, Saki must prove her worth- or say goodbye to the world of the living forever.
I am so happy I decided to read The Night Parade, it really is superb. Saki was one of those characters that I read now and wonder if I would have read them the same way when I was actually in middle school. She could be bratty and annoying, at times and her view of the trip to her grandmother's, time away from Tokyo and her friends and the rituals really had me curious if I would have seen (well, read) her differently when I was more her age.
Her attitude and behavior work for who her character is and where the rest of the book will take her, though.
Saki has that little voice in her head saying that things - or people, friends - may not be good or right, but she doesn't feel able to speak up. Then some misadventures lead to a death curse and Saki seeing and experiencing much more than she anticipated.
The setting - Japan in general, but her grandmother's tiny village and their house near the shine more specifically - work so well in The Night Parade. The family's entire trip revolves around Obon. The rituals, Saki (and her brother's) reluctance to be fully engaged in something her parents and grandmother see as so important, the memories of her grandfather fit together well.
The blend of the 'old' with the traditional things that Saki is expected to assist with, participate in and/or care about contrasted with the 'new' of her wanting to stay, like her friends, in Tokyo, or at least somewhere with more cell reception creates a nice balance. It also sets it up for Saki to begin to see things differently once she's on her journey.
The magic, the mythology and fantasy used in The Night Parade - from the creatures, spirits, beings Saki encounters to why she is there and even what she must do - are great fun. Though the fact that she is likely to acquire some appreciation for all that she's dismissive of in the beginning is expected, it is the how (along with the where, who and why) that are really fantastic.
The Night Parade is an enjoyable read - and not just for Middle Grade readers - with an amazing amount of imagination, a well written character and a lot of heart.
thank you to the publisher for spotlight info & review copy, via NetGalley
Praise for The Night Parade:“Wonder and imagination abound in Tanquary’s debut, a fantasy set in a contemporary Japanese mountain village; filled with respect and admiration for cultural tradition, it evokes both Grimm’s fairy tales and Miyazaki’s films...Vivid details and realistic situations ensure accessibility, and subtle teaching moments are wrapped in wide-eyed enchantment.” –Publishers Weekly STARRED Review“An entertaining mix of Japanese folklore and teen angst” –School Library Journal“Highly imaginative, beautifully written and what a wonderful book that talks about becoming true to oneself. While reading this all I could picture was a Miyazaki film in my head, and it was beautiful!”--Teresa Steele, Old Firehouse Books (Fort Collins, CO)
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About the Author:
Kathryn Tanquary is a graduate of Knox College with a B.A. in Creative Writing. She currently resides in Japan as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language.