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The Wind Boy Ethel Cook Eliot

The Wind Boy

Ethel Cook Eliot

Published 1996
ISBN : 9780961596149
Paperback
237 pages
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 About the Book 

This was one of my childhood books. My mom read it to me, and we also had a cassette tape that Id listen to over and over again, under blankets on the couch on rainy days. I wanted to curl up inside the book, imagining myself playing with Kay and Gentian, the nine- and eight-year old protagonists. Id re-read the book when I was older, nine or ten, finishing the whole book in an afternoon and carrying the story in the front of my mind for days. Reading it again at a high-school-age, I love The Wind Boy as much as I did then.The story focuses on Gentian and Kay, two refugee children, and their family. Their mother Detra has a day job in a factory, but by night she becomes an artist as skilled as the Great Artist living next door. Detra is sculpting a young boy with wings, a Wind Boy, but his expression is always a little too sad. Her family is also suffering: Kay and Gentians father is absent from most of the story, Detra is struggling to support herself and her children on factory wages, and Kay and Gentian are having difficulty settling into their new home.It all becomes less worrying when Nan, a young girl from the mountains, arrives to answer Detras advertisement for a girl for general housework. Nan is quite simple, but has an air of serene clarity about her that distinguishes her from others in the small village. She relieves Detra of household duties, but also brings the children into a magical place called the Clear Land, which partially mirrors the real world. The Clear Land is a place where one can be deep-still, where everyone is kind, and where the air can literally be climbed--if ones mind is clear enough. Kay and Gentian buy sandals from a man in the Clear Land, who measures them by looking into their eyes and finds that their minds are quite clear.The children also discover a Wind Boy in the shoe store: He is a living boy identical to their mothers small statue, blonde-haired with purple wings and eyes somehow...touched with sadness. The Wind Boy is quickly best of friends with the children, but he cannot play with them in the Clear Land. He tells them that, for fun, he made a mask out of leaves and grass. A small boy saw him in it and was frightened, and the Wind Boy threw the mask away in remorse. Someone has picked it up, though, and is wearing it to scare other village children. The Wind Boy cannot play in the Clear Land until the mask is destroyed, and so he and Gentian and Kay watch for the Masker every night, hoping to catch it.The Wind Boy is a mild, lovely story appropriate for the average seven-year-old and more mature younger readers. It can offer older teens and adults a thoughtful window back into childhood, and though it was first published in 1923, is still relevant to questions of innocence and reality. Eliots writing is simple but beautiful, containing effortlessly vivid imagery and completely natural dialogue. The plot, while not suspenseful or thrilling, is engaging, and will gently draw the reader back and back again.Other things I like about this book:The illustrations. In the 1996 paperback edition, there are beautiful pen-and-ink drawings that perfectly capture the authors depiction of the characters.How the Clear Land is similar to, but purer than, reality. There is a school, a Great Artist, and a Wind Boy, but they are all brighter and kinder than in real life.Nans nightgown: A feather-light dress covered with stars that seems to be made out of night sky. In it, the wearer can travel the universe while sleeping.The audio cassette (click here for CD version), read by Lorrie Holt, is quaint and soft, matching the tone of the writing.