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A Million Shades of Gray Hardcover


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A Million Shades of Gray + Cracker!: The Best Dog in Vietnam
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 700L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416918833
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416918837
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,205,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6–9—All Y'Tin, 13, ever wanted was to be an elephant trainer, and when he was 11, he became the youngest handler ever in his village. His life revolves around Lady and the other elephants in their small herd. But this is Vietnam in 1975 and the North Vietnamese are a threat to the Dega people of the Central Highlands now that the American forces are gone. The feared attack comes and half the village, including Y'Tin, is captured. He witnesses the murder of a fellow elephant keeper and, when he is ordered to help dig a mass grave, he knows escape is his only hope. When the chance comes, he and his friend Y'Juen slip into the jungle. They manage to find Lady and the other elephants, but the stress, fear, and anxiety about the war never leave Y'Tin. Even when he is reunited with his family, he cannot let go of the constant strain and despair for the future. When he is sent into the jungle to track down a lost Y'Juen, he spends a desperate night in fear. At this point, he decides the best thing is to try and make it to Thailand to find his future as an elephant trainer. Like a child in any war, Y'Tin has to cope with a situation that he doesn't understand, one that has completely overturned his life. Kadohata depicts the questions, fears, confusion, and apprehension skillfully. Y'Tin is a thoughtful young man searching for clear answers where there are none.—Terrie Dorio, Santa Monica Public Library, CA
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From Booklist

Growing up in a remote Dega village in South Vietnam, Y’Tin is as close with his beloved elephant, Lady, as he is with his father, who works with the American Special Forces. After the Americans leave, Y’Tin, 13, flees the Vietcong massacre of his village and tries to find his family and friends while surviving in the jungle and caring for Lady. For a story so packed with action, this novel reads very slowly. Kadohata has done her research––including interviews with Dega refugees in North Carolina––but unlike her spare Newbery winner, Kira-Kira (2004), the detail here sometimes drowns the drama. But the boy’s viewpoint does open up political history that is seldom explored from this perspective in books for youth (Why did Y’Tin’s father join the Americans? Why did the Americans abandon the Vietnamese?), and teen readers will be caught by the jungle adventure and the village conflict, as well as by Y’Tin’s personal battles with friends and enemies and his playful bond with Lady. Grades 7-12. --Hazel Rochman

More About the Author

Cynthia Kadohata has lived in Chicago, Georgia, Arkansas, Michigan, Los Angeles, Boston, Pittsburgh, and New York City. She has worked as a waitress, sales clerk, typist, publicist, and secretary. She's back to Los Angeles now, probably permanently, and lives with George, her boyfriend of fifteen years; Sammy, her much-loved son; and two very funny and probably insane dogs. She has published three novels for grown-ups, and her writing has appeared in Grand Street, the Mississippi Review, The New Yorker, and Ploughshares. Her first children's novel, Kira-Kira, won the Newbery Medal in 2005. She has also published the children's books Weedflower, winner of the Pen-USA; Cracker, winner of six state awards as voted on by kids; Outside Beauty; A Million Shades of Gray; and The Thing About Luck, winner of the 2013 National Book Award. Her next novel is Half a World Away, due out September 2, 2014. Half a World Away is the tale of a troubled young boy who was adopted from Romania at age eight and whose parents are adopting a baby from Kazakhstan.

Customer Reviews

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Cynthia Kadohata's new novel is both beautifully written and action-packed.
Avi Gezunt
My congratulations to the author for once again producing such an important novel that will have lasting impact.
J. Prather
One of them has a lovely Thai mother and it was nice for her to be able to offer some insights onher homeland.
Lyn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By HeatherHH on March 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the story of a young teenage boy name T'Yin who is the youngest elephant trainer in his village in the Vietnam jungle. American troops have withdrawn from the Vietnam War, and T'Yin's village, from which many of the men helped the American Special Forces, is now vulnerable to attack from the North Vietnamese. T'Yin ends up fleeing into the jungle with his elephant, and has to decide whether to stay and resist or establish a new life elsewhere.

This book had a lot of potential, but unfortunately, I did not find it to be very engaging. I enjoyed the first 30 pages of this book, introducing T'Yin and his elephant, Lady, but it was downhill from there. The elephant became rather peripheral to the storyline, there, but not very important, and I think that would be one of the main appeals for many readers. Lady also didn't really come to life and didn't seem to have much personality to her.

I felt the story, as short as it is, just seemed to drag on, and the writing was so dry and matter-of-fact and held me at a distance. T'Yin was held captive, and running through the jungle, and bickering with older boys, and making major life decisions, and I cared more about getting through the book than about what happened to his character. I also felt the writing was a bit abrupt at times. T'Yin has an exceedingly convenient reunion with his elephant; she appears unexpectedly out of nowhere at a key moment. And, the ending of the story seemed rather abrupt to me. All of a sudden, T'Yin comes to his monumental decision and has his strong feeling of security in what the future holds (for no apparent reason), and the book is over.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Prather TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is the powerful story of Y'Tin, a 13 year old boy living in the mountain regions of Vietnam and what happens to him following the American withdrawal. The story is told by Y'Tin, and the author has achieved a stunningly authentic voice for him. We see his fear, his courage, and his sometimes childish, sometimes wise thoughts about war, his family, and his beloved elephant. His devotion to his elephant runs throughout the story, and his faith in his future with her despite the horrific things happening around him is beautiful and sad in it's child-like naivete.

This is a sometimes graphic, brutal story that is best suited for middle school and above. The images of a mass grave and ruthless murder as seen through the eyes of a child are vividly portrayed. Y'Tin's struggle with the realization that the American's were not coming back to help his village was hard for me to read. This is a part of the Vietnam story that I had conveniently forgotten about, so I am very glad that the author is helping to keep it alive for the next generation. I hope teachers latch on to this book as I truly think it could be very effective while teaching about the Vietnam war period.

Other reviewers have commented on the child like writing style as being a draw back to the book's appeal to teens. I feel that any teen who picks this up will be drawn in by it. The style of writing is an integral part of Y'Tin's character and helps to serve as a counterpoint to the horrific events of the book. My congratulations to the author for once again producing such an important novel that will have lasting impact. A solid choice for teens age 12 and up, as well as any adult fan of historical fiction. The author's end notes add much to the story and will only serve to open up even more discussion.
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Format: Hardcover
For many Americans, no matter their age, the Vietnam War has receded into distant memory or even the realm of myth. Outside of the iconic Vietnam Veterans Memorial and dwindling accounts in films and books, this 1960s and '70s-era war has been subsumed by more recent conflicts.

Even for Americans who remember the war, their knowledge of it probably ceases at the point when the U.S. troops withdrew from what seemed an increasingly hopeless and unpopular situation. But what happened to the South Vietnamese people who were left behind when the Americans withdrew to cut their own losses? Cynthia Kadohata explores this devastating question in A MILLION SHADES OF GRAY.

Thirteen-year-old Y'Tin has one passion: elephants. Y'Tin is an expert elephant trainer, the youngest handler in his village. He is not so enthusiastic about school, though --- he would rather spend his energies training his beloved elephant, Lady, with whom he has a close, intuitive relationship, without the violence and mistrust that characterizes some other handlers' treatment of their animals. Y'Tin's goal is to open his own school someday --- an elephant training school, that is, the first of its kind in Vietnam.

But history might have its own plans for Y'Tin. His Dega tribe has long had a relationship with the American troops fighting the North Vietnamese --- many men like Y'Tin's own father have assisted the American Special Forces in exchange for a promise that the Americans will always defend the Dega if the North Vietnamese break their treaty agreement and attack these mountain-dwelling South Vietnamese people.

In the wake of the American withdrawal, however, the U.S. troops seem to have forgotten about their promise to the Dega.
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