Excerpt provided by Syndetics
<anon I1="BLANK" I2="BLANK">Evan stands at the door to his father's study. Thereis a sign at eye level: THE DOCKYARD. It was a present he gave to his father ast Christmas,made of cork so that if the house sank, at least the sign would still float. Their little joke. He raises his hand to knock-- a habit he can begin to unlearn. So much of grief is unlearning. He opens the door, steps inside, and takes a shallow breath, afraid of what might belingering on the air. But there are only the old familiar smells:Royal Lime aftershave, glue, sawdust. This is where he found him. He thought his father had fallen asleep. The only sign thatanything was wrong was the new model ship lying on its side on the carpet. His father had finished it the evening before--fourteen days ago. Evan had picked up the ship; it wasn't damaged. He found a space for it on the shelf with the other ships,a couple dozen of them. He placed it there to join his father's bottled armada. "Not so grand as an armada," his father had once said. "More like a flotilla." Clifford E. Griffin III, a modest man. It was strange doing that, picking up the boat and placing itcarefully on the shelf, pretending his father was asleep behindhim. Only asleep. There was no blood, no sign of a struggle, just the boat in its bottleon its side on the floor. And his father pitched over his desk, his face strained, his eyelids and jaw tense,rigor mortis setting in. He even died modestly. Hypertrophiccardiomyopathy. The muscle of his heart had been thickening. Evan had watched his father rub his chest afair bit, the look on his face more annoyance than pain. And he would get short of breath when he was gardening. That was about it. And then that was it. Fourteen days ago. No -- fifteen. Now Evan moves into the room, heads over to the desk,the chair pushed back so hard against the wall by the paramedics that it left a dent in the plaster just under the window. The chair is still there up against the wall. The plants on the sill are dead. One more thing Evan has forgotten to do. There are dried leaves on the floor. The ambulance arrived thirteen minutes after he called 911.The fire truck got there three minutes faster. Evan stood shivering at the open front door in his boxers and T-shirt, watching the cartoon-red ladder truck pull into the driveway, wondering whether he'd somehow called the wrong number. Huge men, dressed for putting out fires, piled out of the vehicle, sniffed the air, looked up into the early morning haze for smoke or flames-- the kind of stuff they were good at. Then two of them set off at a run around the perimeter of the house-- one this way, one that-- while three of them entered, so large, they seemed to fill up the place and suck out all the air. Evan thought maybe he was suffocating. One of them checked out the Dockyard. Another one found a blanket somewhere and wrapped Evan up in it, made him sit in the living room, trembling even though it was July. The third fireman brought him water in a glass from the kitchen. "Is there someone we should call?" Evan shook his head. His dad was retired now, so he wasn' tgoing to be late for work. Oh! The fireman meant family:another parent or auntie,an older sibling-- that kind of someone. But there really wasn't anyone. Not one he could think of right then, that is-- right at that precise moment. Just him and Dad. Excerpted from The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.</anon>
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Wynne-Jones (Blink & Caution) deftly blends realism and fantasy in this eerie tale featuring Evan, a high school student mourning his late father, and Griff, the crusty grandfather Evan meets for the first time. Evan always knew that his ex-Marine grandfather and draft-dodger father never saw eye to eye, but he wasn't aware of his grandfather's unearthly encounters during WWII until he discovers the mysterious diary of a Japanese soldier. When Griff shows up at Evan's door, Evan is immediately put off by his grandfather's controlling tendencies, but his curiosity is piqued. Could this be the same man mentioned in the diary, who visited an island filled with flesh-eating monsters and the ghosts of unborn children? Readers will be swept up quickly in the tense relationship between Evan and Griff, as well as the unlikely friendship between enemy soldiers fighting for survival in a surreal landscape. Without spelling out the metaphoric significance of the story within the story, Wynne-Jones provides enough hints for readers to make connections and examine the lines between war and peace, as well as hate and love. Ages 14-up. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-While going through his deceased father's belongings, Evan, 16, finds an unpublished manuscript and begins to read. His estranged grandfather, Griff, is a retired Marine and wants nothing to do with the book, which turns out to contain two different stories: one from the point of view of a Japanese soldier and one from an American soldier-both set on Kokoro Jima, the Heart Shaped Island. At times the stories are surreal and feature ghosts of the unborn, the Jikininki, or eaters of the dead, and the most intriguing character, Tengu-also known as "the monster." Todd Haberkorn proves to be a talented reader as he navigates three different stories, the past and present, and characters who are different ages, ethnicities, and genders. Haberkorn keeps the tone steady, and there is no doubt about which characters or time period he is voicing. Listeners will want to know if the creatures are real and if Evan and his grandfather reconcile. VERDICT An essential purchase that tells a different story from World War II within a realistic framing. ["This intergenerational tale is an excellent addition to most YA collections": SLJ 10/15 starred review of the Candlewick book.]-Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Two weeks after finding his father dead with his head resting on a sand-colored book, Evan is still numbed by his loss when three things happen: He receives a puzzling phone call about the book. He begins the strange journey of reading it. And Griff, the grandfather he has never met, arrives unexpectedly early to help settle his father's affairs and take measure of his estranged son's son. Reading the mysterious book in secret, Evan finds the interwoven first-person accounts of two soldiers, one Japanese, the other American, stranded on a small Pacific island during WWII and encountering monsters, ghostly children, eaters of the dead, as well as experiencing pain, privation, and loss. In this well-structured and beautifully written novel, the historical narrative alternates with chapters of Evan's present-day story, in which he unravels the mystery of Griff's involvement as a young marine with events on the island, and, simultaneously, takes his own measure of his grandfather. Wynne-Jones writes with a sure hand and a willingness to take readers into uncharted territory. The main characters in both time periods are complex and vividly portrayed, while the stories, both supernatural and realistic, quietly take note of nuances that standard narratives overlook. A riveting, remarkable novel by a reliably great Canadian writer.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2015 Booklist
Horn Book Review
So much of grief is unlearning, observes Wynne-Jones in this perceptive and multi-layered page-turner. When Evans single father, Clifford, dies suddenly, the high-schooler must work through his own grief while dealing with Cliffords estranged father Griff, a military man who Clifford had claimed was a murderer. Griffs also a control freak and is somehow tied to the strange book that was sent to Clifford just before he died. As Evan reads the bookthe translated journal of a WWII Japanese soldier stranded on a mystical island with an American Marine plane-crash survivorhe experiences a strange sense of dj-vu. Wynne-Jones skillfully weaves the World War II journal into Evans own story, building suspense and keeping Griffs part in the proceedings just obscure enough to create a cracking mystery. The authors conversational tone provides occasional comic relief when things start to get too sinister, and the immediacy of his writing leads to some evocative descriptive passages (such as when Evan and his father listen to Miles Davis: A night breeze stole into the room and was doing a slow dance under the jazz. Evan could feel it on the back of his neck, the sweat on him cooling. He shivered). Theres a whole lot going on here: Evans and Griffs shared heartbreak, exhibited in very different ways, and their own increasingly complicated relationship; the stark contrast between the mainly nondescript Any Place of Evans suburban Ontario and the horror of the desert island; and the unlikely friendship between enemy soldiers in the story-within-a-story. All these seemingly disparate parts come together in fascinating ways, resulting in an affecting and unforgettable read. sam bloom(c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
After the shock of his father's sudden death and the arrival of a grandfather he was taught to hate but never met, Evan must unravel a family mystery. His father, Clifford, had been reading a peculiar, leather-bound memoir of a Japanese soldier who was marooned on an island during World War II. An accompanying letter suggests that it's somehow connected to Evan's grandfather Griff, a military man with "steel in [his] backbone." Evan knows that his father never got along with Griff, whose very presence irritates Evan as well, especially when he calls him "soldier." Not wanting to reveal anything to Griff, Evan starts to read Isamu Oshiro's memoir and finds himself mesmerized by the haunting, sad journal addressed to Isamu's fiancee. This book within a book, with its monsters, ghost children, and mysterious glimpses of the future, is as tightly written as Evan's modern-day story. Evan's resistance to his grandfather, colored by his father's poor relationship with him, slowly adjusts the deeper he gets into Isamu's memoir. Dual stories of strength and resilience illuminate the effects that war has on individuals and on father-son relationships, effects that stretch in unexpected ways across generations as Evan and Griff make their ways toward a truce. An accomplished wordsmith, Wynne-Jones achieves an extraordinary feat: he illuminates the hidden depths of personalities and families through a mesmerizing blend of realism and magic. (Fiction. 13-17) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.