Author: Claude Ponti
Genre: France / Family / Abuse / Fantasy / Adventure
Year Published: 1993 (Translated from French in 2018)
Year Read: 2018
Publisher: Archipelago Books
Source: eARC (Edelweiss)
Content Rating: Ages 7+ (Themes of Emotional Child Abuse and Some Scary Imagery)
Trigger Warning: Child Abuse
I would like to thank Edelweiss and Archipelago Books for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
When I spotted this unusual children’s book at Edelweiss, I was interested in checking this book out since it was translated from French and I enjoy reading books that are translated from other countries (that is if I can find that many books)! Originally called “Okilele,” “Hiznobyuti” by Claude Ponti and translated by Alyson Waters is a truly unique and delightful treat for children both young and old!
When Hiznobyuti was born, he was not the prettiest child in the world, since he had a long snout that clashes with his family’s short snouts. Because of this, Hiznobyuti was ostracized by his family and he had to live underneath the kitchen sink to stay out of his family’s affairs. One day however, Hiznobyuti ended up getting a message from the stars that he is needed elsewhere and Hiznobyuti decided to run away from home and go on a wild adventure with his companion Martin Clock to find out the mysteries of the world while reaching his true destination.
Wow! I was quite impressed with this bizarre yet creative little children’s book I just discovered! Claude Ponti did a fantastic job at both writing and illustrating this book as the story is highly creative and sad at the same time. I like the way that Claude Ponti managed to balance both whimsical magic and sadness throughout this story as I was captivated by the magical world that the characters inhabited, especially the fact that Hiznobyuti is able to do magical things like talk to the trees and travel to the stars. I was also saddened by the scenes where Hiznobyuti was emotionally abused by his family, especially the scene where Hiznobyuti’s father ends up locking Hiznobyuti underneath the sink by building a brick wall to trap him, which was quite upsetting. I really enjoyed Claude Ponti’s artwork as while it has a somewhat dark and gritty feel to it, it is mostly done in a creative and cute way and I really loved the appearance of Hiznobyuti himself as he has the appearance of a small aardvark and he really stands out in the artwork.
Parents should know that there are some scary and sad moments in this book, which includes Hiznobyuti meeting up with some terrifying monsters on his journey. Also, the scenes where Hiznobyuti is emotionally abused by his family may be too upsetting for both kids and adults, who had experiences of seeing children go through such abuse. Also, the narrative of this book tends to get a bit confusing at times as the story tends to jump all over the place with Hiznobyuti’s adventures.
Overall, “Hiznobyuti” is a truly fantastic children’s book that every child should definitely check out! I would recommend this book to children ages seven and up since the narrative tends to be a bit confusing at times and the scenes of Hiznobyuti’s parents emotionally abusing him can be a bit hard for some children to handle.
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