Like a calming, gentle breeze of morning meditation, Tony Mitton’s unique middle-grade story – Potter’s Boy – takes us on a journey of teenage discovery. Beautifully written, and with more philosophical life lessons than most MG books would be able to get away with (but done in subtle ways, so it’s not moral message-heavy), this story is about a young Japanese boy called Ryo who aches for adventure beyond his tiny, poor village.
Set in ancient Japan, Ryo’s story is one of deciding whether to follow his dreams or settle for a life being a Potter’s son with his father’s small ceramic wares business. After seeing a skilled martial arts fighter called Akio take down a group of bad brigands – and by using no weapons – Ryo decides he must become an avenger of truth and justice. So he leaves home to train as one of the legendary “Hidden Ones” – highly skilled protectors of villages who fight and deal out justice in ways Ryo could never have previously dreamt of.
The book is also more than about Ryo’s story – it is an entire lesson in how discovering yourself can take many different, winding paths…many of them not good at all. Ryo meets many friends along the way, has great and horrific tragedy forced upon him and ultimately makes decisions about his future life during all of his adventures.
Mitton cleverly writes this book in the simple, formal tone of a traditional Japanese person to really allow us, the readers, to be placed in that era and in ancient Japan. If you have never visited Japan, and are unaware of this traditional way of communicating and behaving towards one another, then you might find the book’s tone a little strange and childish…but it isn’t. It is very realistic, involving and elevates its core story into something more:
a mindful look at self-discovery and how, when you get knocked down, there are always ways to pick yourself up again and keep going.
[Book supplied by the publisher for possible review on MyBookCorner, according to our policy. We review the books we love.]