Review sponsored* by Pendred Noyce
The Children’s Book Review | April 5, 2017
The Beechwood Flute
Written by Pendred Noyce
Age Range: 12 and up
Papaerback: 302 pages
Publisher: Calumet Editions
What to expect: Fantasy adventure, slavery, romance
Kiran is a young man in a village far outside of civilization. Kiran wants to be a soldier and train to join the warriors in the capital. But Kiran has a gift—he is the most talented musician in the village, and his flute-playing entrances anyone who listens. The priesthood is calling for him to join them with his musical skills, but his heart burns to be a warrior. He trains with the other boys and fails miserably. He’s not as big or strong as they are, and his fingers seem to only be good for playing the flute.
When it comes time for Kiran and his little sister, Dara, to travel down river to the capital for training, they are joined by Myra, the local healer’s daughter. Everyone thinks Myra is odd. She’s kind to Seffidges, the people enslaved to serve the village. Even Kiran thinks she’s strange. Why would anyone waste time being kind to the village prisoners?
When their boat is attacked on the way to the capital, Myra bravely jumps overboard to save Dara but they are both caught. Paralyzed with fear, Kiran tries to follow their trail, but ends up enslaved by Myra and Dara’s captors. Can he escape and save them all? Will Kiran realize the effects of slavery, and confront his own village and family about their dark beliefs?
Pendred Noyce is a talented writer. Kiran dances off the page like his flute music, and his character arc from consenting child to rogue adult is an interesting one. Without giving away the ending, Kiran’s evolution is satisfying and exactly what the story (and his village) need. Noyce does an excellent job of showing how changing situations can subvert and modify our world views.
The story is full of intricate details that will challenge readers as they become acquainted with this new world. Readers might not like Kiran at first because of his views on the Seffidges. Even though he is not a slave owner, his complacency is upsetting. However, readers will quickly notice that Kiran is adept at changing and not only comes to an understanding about the true nature of Seffidges, but about the people living in the mountains outside his village and the darkness in his very own home. Kiran’s many flutes are woven through the story—his instruments and music change as he grows and is thrust into different situations. By the end, Kiran will risk his life to stand up for what is right.
This book would be an excellent addition to a high school or middle school course on imperialism, slavery or other social justice issues. Fiction, when used as a mirror, can open a dialog that is vital for young people. This book does an excellent job of starting the conversation, and teachers and parents would do well to read along. THE BEECHWOOD FLUTE is an intriguing, albeit sometimes heavy, novel that deals with life, death and liberty in a new and interesting way.
About the Author
Pendred (Penny) Noyce is a physician, educator, and writer. She is the author of eleven books for kids ages 9 through adult, with a mix of brainy fantasy and books, both fiction and non-fiction, that feature science.
In 2006, Penny wrote her first middle-grade novel, LOST IN LEXICON, as a gift for her son’s ninth birthday. That was just the beginning. By August, 2011 she decided to join three friends to found Tumblehome Learning, Inc, a company focused on creating science-based mystery and adventure books for kids.
Penny lives in Boston with her husband and travels as much as she can. Her five children, who all have fascinating and productive lives of their own, come and go. No pets!
For more information, visit: https://pendrednoyce.wordpress.com
Dedicated Reviews allow authors and illustrators to gain prompt visibility for their work. Pendred Noyce, the author of “The Beechwood Flute,” sponsored* this non-biased review. Learn more about getting a book review …