As a reviewer you get to read all sorts of book regardless of the genre and the age group they are directed towards. So, you have to put yourself in the children's shoes to get a feel for what they can understand and enjoy. The Gift of Charms is aimed at children in the 9 to 12 age bracket. As a result the book is an easy read; the characters do not have difficult names to pronounce and they experience many of the problems that children will have.
This, unfortunately, includes the bullying of our protagonist, Yashiko, because he stands out to be rather different to everyone else.
The lead dragon, Yoshiko, has been born with a future and destiny defined already from birth and his colour changes do not go unnoticed. Life lessons still need to be learnt by him in order to win the trust of his peers, complete almost impossible tasks set by Guya, a wise and reclusive dragon and travel through the lands to the human world. Yoshiko embraces these challenges with the special kind of determination that only youngsters seem to have; it is hard not to admire the passion he has with which to do all of this despite pretty tough obstacles.
The story itself was good; more than enough action to keep children occupied for a time. However, I do feel as though I've been cheated. The book has won a British Arts Council Award so I was expecting just a little bit more than what the book provides. Unfortunately, it just didn't have that 'wow' factor for me.
Our protagonist, Yoshiko, needed to undergo some training in order to carry out such a mammoth task of saving the dragon's land. For this to take place, before the end of the book, Julia Suziki pushes the story along faster in some places than others. The characters were also lacking in development. I would have loved to know more about what made Yoshiko the hero other than his birth. What was he really like, his thoughts, his belief's etc.
A good read as a whole but it hasn't endeared me to the genre at all.