Author: Kate Banks
Illustrator: Peter Sis
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (August 7, 2012)
Description: Baz has always dreamed about following his two older brothers out of his dusty little town, so when a stranger comes to his family's home and asks him to be a weaver's apprentice, Baz is eager to start his journey. But when he reaches the village of Kallah and starts his apprenticeship, Baz learns that his master is very cruel. And when the master trades Baz to a magician for a sword, Baz expects no better from his new owner. But as Baz travels with this kind-hearted and wise magician, their journey takes him across the desert, up a mountain, and into the depths of life’s meaning. He learns to re-examine his beliefs about people, the world, and himself, discovering that the whole world is connected and no person can ever be owned.
My Thoughts: I found this book to be quite an odd one. I am not sure who the audience of this one would be. The writing is lyrical and almost dream-like. The pacing is very slow and not a lot happens. A young man named Baz leaves his home, travels with a stranger, is apprenticed to a cruel master, and is bought by an itinerant magician who then takes him and travels apparently randomly through the countryside teaching Baz as he goes.
The characters are not so much people as they are archetypes - the wise old teacher and the young scholar. Many of the characters don't even have names unless Baz decides to name them.
Philosophy is much more important in this story than action. It talks about desire, a person's viewpoint, the inter-connectedness of all things. It is a "go with the flow," "live in the moment" sort of story. It almost seems like the kind of story that I read in my high school humanities class when I read Hesse and Kierkegaard or works of Eastern Philosophy. I didn't understand them either!
This book looks like a middle grade book based on the size of the book, the size of the print, and the Peter Sis illustrations. However, I don't know very many philosophical middle graders. Philosophical high school students will likely pass over it because of the way it looks. I don't know that the lyrical writing will be enough to win an audience for this one.
Baz had never thought of desire as a tool for barter. He'd never really thought of desire at all. He had wished for things in life, but never so desperately as to be called desire. But in the coming days when he was thirsty, hungry, homesick, or tired, he was able to study desire in all its complexity. That strange sensation that magnified his senses, the painful want of something beyond one's reach.I received this ARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.