The Beast Player
The Beast Player

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Annotation: When her mother is executed for the mysterious deaths of their kingdom's protective water serpents, a girl with an inherited ability to communicate with magical beasts finds her talent ensnaring her in life-threatening war plots.
Catalog Number: #209853
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 344 pages
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 1-250-30746-5 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-7607-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-250-30746-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-7607-3
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018945008
Dimensions: 23 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Fans of Studio Ghibli films will be enchanted by this new (to America) series. Uehashi is a well-known writer of teen fiction in her native Japan and winner of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award. Her anthropology background shapes this thoughtful read, which introduces 10-year-old Elin as she is orphaned and must find her way in a politically restive situation, learning to employ her considerable intelligence and ability to communicate with animals. Elin's mother is a caretaker of the water serpents (Toda) that comprise the kingdom's army, and she is put to death when beasts under her care die mysteriously. Elin is taken in by an old beekeeper, who realizes Elin, like her mother, has special gifts with regards to the Toda and helps her learn to harness her powers. Uehashi takes her time building character, back story, and cultural history, and a fully realized world is the result. The beauty and power of the natural world is at the core of this intriguing fantasy, whose abrupt ending guarantees a sequel.
Horn Book
In this Japanese-inflected fantasy, Elin's mother is killed by Toda, giant water serpents; Elin grows up to work with Royal Beasts, the gryphon-like enemies of the Toda. When the divine ruler wants to use Royal Beasts as weapons like the Toda, however, Elin rebels. An uneven start matures into a compelling, thought-provoking meditation on moral decisions and exploitation of the natural world.
Kirkus Reviews
Can humans bridge the gulf that separates them from beasts? Is it love that binds all sentient life—or fear?In this translation of the first entry in international-award-winning Japanese author Uehashi's (Moribito, 2014, etc.) hit series, 10-year-old Elin idolizes her mother, a skilled beast doctor for Toda, fearsome battle serpents. When some Toda die mysteriously, Elin's mother is sentenced to death. Elin escapes and finds a kind beekeeper in the mountains who raises her as his own. As she grows into adulthood, she discovers her love for all living creatures and a unique gift for communicating with the magical Royal Beasts. But the nation's political structure is fragile. Soon Elin is thrust into deadly civil conflict and must decide whether to use her beloved animal friends as tools of war. The author creates complex societies and fantastical creatures with imaginative, immersive detail. In a refreshing change for Western readers, the central issue hinges on neither individual power nor romantic love but kindness balanced against responsibility, and the narrative jumps among the perspectives of numerous characters in a more digressive style than they may be accustomed to. It's lovely to watch Elin blossom from a quiet, curious child into a compassionate, thoughtful young woman with a steadfast moral compass—even if that compass sometimes leads her astray.A richly detailed coming-of-age fantasy epic that rewards the patient and contemplative reader. (Fantasy. 13-adult)
Reading Level: 5.0
Interest Level: 7-12
Lexile: 840L

Nahoko Uehashi's The Beast Player is an epic YA fantasy about a girl with a special power to communicate with magical beasts and the warring kingdom only she can save.

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