Beyond the Fox Whistle

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Beyond the Fox Whistle
Author: Nahoko Uehashi
Specifications: ISBN  978-4101302713
392 pages
10.6 x 15.0 cm / 4.2 x 6.0 in (WxH)
Category: Children & YA
Ages: 12+
Publisher: Rironsha
Tokyo, 2003
Awards: Noma Prize for Children's Literature, 2004
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Twelve-year-old Sayo lives quietly with her grandmother on the edge of Yona in the land of Haruna. One day she rescues the young fox Nobi from some dogs that are chasing it. The girl and the fox grow closer. Sayo discovers that she has inherited a special power from her late mother?the ability to hear people's inner voices?and learns that Nobi is actually a "spirit fox" under the control of a shaman who serves the lord of Yuki, the neighboring kingdom. The shaman is using the spirit foxes under his power in a plot to wreak Haruna's demise. Nobi attempts to break the cycle of hatred and violence that sustains the territorial dispute between the lords of the two kingdoms, and is severely wounded in the process. Sayo faces off with the shaman to protect Nobi from his wrath over the betrayal.

Underlying the story, says the author, is the sense the Japanese have long had that humans and animals may be different in many ways, but are ultimately fellow creatures who reside on the same plane. On display once again are the masterful description, plotting, and other storytelling skills she previously brought to her Moribito series, which was similarly set in a fantasy world modeled on an earlier Japan and had a female protagonist.