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Publisher's Summary

Y'Tin is brave.

No one in his village denies that. And while his mother may wish that he'd spend more time on schoolwork than on training his elephant, she knows that it takes a great deal of courage and calm to handle elephants the way that Y'Tin does. He is the best handler in the village - and at 13 years old, the youngest. Maybe he'll even open up his own school someday to teach other Dega how to train wild elephants! That was the plan, anyway - back before the American troops pulled out of the Vietnam War, back before Y'Tin's village was attacked by North Vietnamese forces, back before they had to start digging a massive, menacing pit, back before Y'Tin watched his life change in a million terrible ways.

Now, his bravery is truly put to the test: He can stay in his village, held captive by the North Vietnamese, or he can risk his life (and save his elephant's) by fleeing into the jungle.

Newbery Medal-winning author Cynthia Kadohata brings us close to a world few people know about -- but will never forget. Heartbreaking yet full of hope, Y'Tin's story is one of lasting friendships, desperate choices, and all that we lose when we are forced to change.

©2010 Cynthia Kadohata (P)2010 Simon & Schuster

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lisa
  • Valley Village, CA, United States
  • 11-04-10

beautiful writing

This was well read and held your interest. The point of view of a young boy in Vietnam during the war there is unique to children's literature in English, I think, and the writing is tight and well plotted, and lovely. Very appropriate for a 4th - 6th grade reader, and can be listened to by all ages.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Unique setting. Kid making hard choices...

Worth the four hour listen for the setting and most of the story. Writing style was irritating to me... the omniscient point of view felt like it was jerking me around. Y-Tin, a young elephant handler in Vietnam watches as his village is attacked and nearly half living there were slaughtered. He witnesses friends killed, homes burned, escapes, travels though the jungle and chooses to give up his elephant to save her... it had potential to be superior book, but I just didn't feel the magic.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful book! Not so much about elephants.

I listened to this book on a long drive in one day. As the story progressed I was occasionally irritated by the simplistic writing style, however the author created such empathetic characters in Y'Tin and his family that I stopped being annoyed and became very enthusiastic about the way she shared a rarely-exposed side of war. Younger readers rarely have a chance to consider the other side of the story for people who live through a war. With the young protagonist, Y'Tin, who comes to question issues around why the Americans, including a special forces unit that his father worked with, left without "winning" the war, how friends can undergo changes as their normal lives are deconstructed, and how family and extended family, in this case the elephant "Lady", are so important. The questions he ponders during his time in the jungle after fleeing the North Vietnamese army are thought provoking to readers/listeners of all ages. I really enjoyed this book because it reminded me that wars have two sides (at least) and are rarely "won". An while it was not so much about elephants, there are wonderful passages about Y'Tin's relationship with Lady and tidbits about elephants and their place in the southeast asian culture.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful narrative

Where does A Million Shades of Gray rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Delicately told story about a teenager's struggle with his passion and obstacles the world presented. The most disappointing thing about this audiobook was that it ended. Of course, it was only four-ish hours of listening. What was I expecting? After pondering my disappointment, I realized the purpose of the story and was pleasantly at peace with the ending.

Which scene was your favorite?

When the boy was completely loosing hope, life presented him an alluringly good omen.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Definitely!

Any additional comments?

Can the author make a sequel?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lyn
  • LADY LAKE, FL, United States
  • 07-17-12

An overlooked era

What did you love best about A Million Shades of Gray?

an opportunity to understand a different culture

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Million Shades of Gray?

the recurring comment they had been let down by the Americans

Have you listened to any of Keith Nobbs’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

coming of age in Thailand

Any additional comments?

this part of American history has been buried and these people deserve a voice

1 of 1 people found this review helpful