When discussing reading with students over the past weeks, we have often referred to the ability of books to take you different places, on a journey and to put you in someone else’s shoes. After a busy week, that is exactly what I needed – and today’s mode of transport was The Wishbird by Gabrielle Wang.
The Wishbird and tales like it always take me back to the books I used to love as a young reader – of fables, legends and fantasy. Whether it be Greek myths and legends, or Arabian tales, I was wrapt in the possibilities of the heroes and anti-heroes portrayed within. Wang has again taken me to these places, though with her Chinese heritage, she has changed the location.
The tale is told from two viewpoints – that of Boy, a street urchin who survives with his light-fingered talents and answerable to Panther, the Fagin in this tale; and then we hear from Oriole, a waif raised in the wild, but destined to play an important future role in resurrecting a torn kingdom far away.
Though initially alternating between Boy and Oriole, the story entwines their lives, their destinies. Mysteries abound in the novel – what can be real or imagined, interplay. What things are possible, or mystical, or fantastical combine – as the players in the tale seek to find meaning in their own personal histories, and to overcome tragedies of their past within their current circumstances.
The fact that this all occurs within a magical tale, where anything might be possible, is the charm of the Wishbird. Wang narrates mystical events, which are confused by conflict and deception, to weave a tale of courage and strength and trust. The pictures within the story add to its charm, affirming how you ‘think’ you see her descriptions – which is nothing different from the days when I read an illustrated version of the Arabian Nights, way back when…
Imagine a world without music.
Imagine if all the singers and musicians disappeared, never to be seen again. Music is outlawed. Even birds are killed because they sing. And because birds live in forests then the forests all around are burnt to stumps.
Music is an integral part of human existence. Every culture in the world makes music. Without it, the soul dies.
This is at the heart of The Wishbird.
Comment from: http://gabriellewang.com/books/the-wishbird
To find out more about Gabrielle, the other books she has written and her way of writing, visit http://gabriellewang.com/faq . There is much to inspire the writer within you, and excite the reader looking for more of Gabrielle Wang.
What are some of your favourite fables, fantasy worlds or myths?
How much do you think the character names add to the Wishbird tale? Oriole? Boy? Panther? Mellow?
Gabrielle is also a talented illustrator and has lots to say to encourage the artist within everyone –
Imagine if students were allowed to doodle all the way through school.
Skills with line work and visualization would increase and both sides of the brain would be exercised.
It might turn out to be a very interesting experiment. For more see: http://gabriellewang.com/archives/the-gift-of-doodling
So get out your writing pens and doodling pencils NOW – you never know what may happen.