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Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn

Title Across the Nightingale Floor
Author Lian Hearn
Publisher Workman Publish Co
Year 2002
ISBN-10 1565117115

Teaser/Reader Annotation Faced with a new life in a new clan, Tomasu must take on a new name and learn how to deal with the dangers inherent to his new position.

Plot Summary The first in The Tales of Otori series, Across the Nightingale Floor takes place in an alternative feudal Japan, telling the story of a sixteen-year-old boy, Tomasu, and a fifteen-year-old girl, Kaede. When Tomasu returns from exploring the mountains he finds his family slaughtered and gets caught up in a dangerous chase with the warlords responsible. Rescued by Lord Shigeru of the Otori, Tomasu is taken in for protection but is renamed Takeo. Along the road, Takeo temporarily loses his voice and gains a superhuman boost to his hearing. From this it is revealed that he is a member by birth of the “Tribe” - a mysterious group of assassins with supernatural abilities. Shigeru makes plans to adopt Takeo under the condition that Shigeru marries the most beautiful girl in the Three Countries, Shirakawa Kaede. Takeo must learn how to survive in a world of political intrigue and feuding clans while dealing with the instant connection shared by himself and Kaede.

Critical Evaluation Hearn does a very good job in creating an emotional connection between the readers and the characters introduced throughout the book. Readers not only are taken along through their stories, but truly connect with them and feel sympathy for their plights. The individual plot of each character manages to tie together into the main plot of the book. Unlike many other authors who attempt this technique, Hearns does not fall into the trap of tangents or interjections but manages to keep it smooth and read naturally. Even more, Hearns created a stunning, descriptive setting, weaving a beautiful picture in the mind of the reader. My biggest critique of the novel is that the dialogue occasionally felt stilted and overly formal. In the end, however, this is outweighed by the good qualities of the novel. The book ends with the reader wanting to know more and eager to move on to the next part in the series.

About the Author Gillian Rubinstein, pen name Lian Hearn, was born August 29, 1942 in Hertfordshire, England. She spent her childhood between the countries of England and Nigeria, but ended up moving to Australia in 1973. Rubinstein currently resides in Goolwa, South Australia. She has written over thirty books, eight plays, and numerous short stories and articles.

The majority of her works are children's books, but in 2002 she released her first publication that reached an older audience. This was the young adult novel Across the Nightingale Floor, the first of the best-selling Tales of Otori series that she published under the pseudonym Lian Hearn.

Primary Genre Historical Fiction

Secondary Genre Fantasy

Curriculum Ties History

Booktalking Ideas

Hearn combined historical aspects of feudal with a fantasy world of her own creation. Was this effective in helping you connect with the new world? Discuss.

Reading Level/Interest Age 15+

Challenge Issues Violence, Sexual Content

1) Become familiar with book and its content.
2) Refer to library's collection policies.
3) Refer to reviews from School Library Journal, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobles.
4) Get reviews from teenagers who are familiar with the book.
5) Refer to the ALA Library Bill of Rights.

Why is it included? This book series was recommended to me by a teenager as a great piece of historical fiction.

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