Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Little Sister Paperback – April 1, 1998
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
"A solid, suspenseful mix of history and mythology," said PW of this supernatural adventure set in 12th-century Japan, in which 13-year-old Mitsuko unwittingly accepts the help of a shape-shifting demon to search for her older sister. Ages 10-14.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-Dalkey blends elements of Shinto and Buddhist folklore with historical facts about Japan around A.D. 1100. Mitsuko, 13, is a member of the powerful Fujiwara noble family. As her family flees the city to escape the marauding warrior-monks, her sister's beloved husband is killed and the young woman plunges into a catatonic state. Mitsuko believes that the only way to save her is to search for her soul, which must be seeking the soul of her dead husband. She runs away, taking her sister with her, and meets up with a tengu, or shape-shifting demon, who agrees to help with Mitsuko's quest. So begins a fantastical journey in which the brave girl meets many mystical figures of Japanese mythology, resulting in the eventual recovery of her sister, a reunion of her family, and the changing of Mitsuko's life forever. The author never really generates the excitement one might expect. Despite an endnote delineating cultural fact from folkloric fiction, the onslaught of unfamiliar mythical figures may frustrate less-than-patient readers. Also distracting is the rhythm of the language, which is choppy and unnatural. The ending is strangely ambiguous and seems tacked on. Even with these flaws the book will be of interest because of its unusual setting. It should appeal to readers of romantic fantasy thanks to a strong female protagonist, the engaging and humorous tengu, and the chance to discover an unfamiliar mythology.
Carrie Schadle, New York Public Library
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Quickly, the fortunes of her family take a turn for the worse. The spirit of her beloved older sister, who Mitsuko wants to emulate in all things, wanders off after a tragedy, and only a shell of a human remains. Mitsuko takes it upon herself to fix this dreadful problem, leading her on an adventure where she makes unlikely friends through her tenacity and desire to set the world right.
The first thing I loved about this book was that it introduced me to a Japanese mythological creature called a tengu. There are a few different interpretations of what they are, but in this case, the tengu are basically raven men/demons. You can see a representation of one on Mitsuko's sleeve on the cover art. Goranu is one of these creatures, and decides to aid Mitsuko on her quest. He is hilarious and irreverent, and I would often burst into giggles when he pulled out a one-liner.
There is a definite journey of the hero here, and Mitsuko performs admirably. She pulls out extraordinary acts of bravery throughout the story, facing down a lot of adventures that would have left me, quite frankly, running for cover. At one point in the story she does break down - and, no spoilers here - it meant so much when it happened. I thought, "My god, look how far she's come, and I didn't even realize it was happening." The story was masterfully pulled together so the character development happened completely naturally. It's amazing to me how much punch young adult novels are able to put into so few pages.
I cannot tell you how much the ending affected me. Seriously, this is a young adult book! It's only 200 pages long! How attached could I possibly become to these characters? But I was, I was. I started blubbering at the last page, and typed within moments of finishing: "Oh my god. I just finished this about a minute ago. I burst into tears and walked blindly over to my computer to say Yes, yes, take all of the stars."
This was a great adventure novel that transcends the genre and ages. It is out of print and so might be a little hard to get a hold of, but if you do ever get a copy, I hope you love it as much as I did.
It's hard, at first, to say quite why. The writing, presented as a first-person narrative by Mitsuko of events she is writing about afterwards, is elementary on the surface: functional, spare and tidy. However, what seems unremarkable comes to resemble the small haiku with which it is occasionally interspersed. It is not simple but restrained, echoing the delicate sensibilities of the Heian literature with which someone like Mitsuko would be so familiar. Her humble monogatari is certainly no "Tale of Genji" - nonethless, they are indisputably kin.
The premise also seems elementary at first: young girl of elite but sheltered upbringing must dare the larger world in order to help her family and counter a terrible wrong - instant, expected conflict as Mitsuko takes risks and makes enemies. At the same time, there is conflict of a more internal, personal variety when Mitsuko makes some unexpected allies: most importantly Goranu the tengu, a shape-shifting bird demon of Japanese mythology. While an alliance of convenience slowly turns into something resembling friendship, Mitsuko begins making decisions and developing ideas that contradict her own values, those of her family, and those of the society to which she belongs.
The beauty is in the subtle and restrained manner that this is presented--Mitsuko is a consistant character and no fickle reed to bend where the wind may blow. Even at the end of the book she expresses sentiments that can startle a reader who isn't a product of her particular time and place. It is a pleasure to accompany a protagonist who changes in believable fashion: blossoming into gradual, grudging and occasionally graceful bloom.
All of this elegance might be a little dry if it weren't tempered with an abundance of humor through wicked Goranu and his antics, and Mitsuko is no slouch in the wit department herself. Both characters challenge each other to grow and change - to what extent becomes evident in the book's touching denouement, when it really hit home to me just how much I had come to care for them both, and how concerned I was for their future.
The ending, as it stands, is sketchy. On the one hand, it is jarring after all the loose ends are tidied away to have a new conflict arise so suddenly with its noisy demand for resolution. On the other hand, the very existance of a sequel compromises the delicate ambiguity of the closing paragraph - the reader can't very well choose the ending of his or her choice when Dalkey will be telling us Mitsuko's decision in the next book.
Nonetheless, I couldn't be too annoyed at the ending to "Little Sister" when I was already worrying about how to get hold of "The Heavenward Path." Not for long, though - thank goodness for libraries! The second book continues the first book's themes of maturation, transformation, and reconciliation: of destiny, of relationships and of personal philosophies. They are, as previous reviewer said, genre-benders, containing a whole lot of book in two slender volumes and even providing a kind of beginner's course on the interaction of the Buddhist and Shinto religions.
Checking "Little Sister" and "The Heavenward Path" out of the library has left me enriched. Buy them? You bet I will.
Most recent customer reviews
Little sister was a good book. It had the right amount of exitment and boringness.Read more