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Pleng’s Song : Review

Pleng’s Song: Float along with a Flood of Adventure and Ecstasy



Pleng’s Song: Float along with a Flood of Adventure and Ecstasy
A good children’s book does not only tell that dragons exists, it says that even if they do exist, they can be beaten with a good bit of bravery and skill. After reading Patrick Maher’s intriguing and fast flowing book “Pleng’s Song” two times in a row, I dare say that this is the best and the most inspirational children’s book I have read so far. Pleng’s Song flows on with such a fast tidal wave that we can hardly take a breath until we read from the first page to the very last. Reader’s curiosity is maintained at the top most point giving unexpected yet logical turns into the situations that come along. The best feature I see in this book is that the reality is given the way it is not sugar coating them like many of the books written for children. I personally believe that it is not good hiding the harsh truth of life waiting outside their cozy homes from the kids. By making the protagonist of the novel a young girl nearing adolescence, Patrick subtly tells all the children that then can win the life no matter which age or gender they really are.

Pleng is a young girl living with her rich father and alcoholic mother in the start of the novel. But her mother and father both are being distant to her; Pleng shows signs of a strong and independent girl. The story starts with a scene happened in her school Union of Hearts International. The subtle humor in the words Patrick use in this book is just overwhelmingly superb. He makes this girl witty, sarcastic and funny which makes us fall in love with her right away.

“The truth is my day at school was stupid, and that is with capitals S-T-U-P-I-D. The morning meeting activity of touching elbows made me feel like a first grader.”

While keeping her a strong, vibrant and brave young girl, Patrick does not forget to bring out the little kid inside her soul who needs love, caring and affection as any little kid out there. In one situation when her class teacher asks her to write about the life if there was no internet, Pleng finds that her computer has been broken by her mother. She hand writes the essay and going through it deeply we can see the pain inside her heart due to the less affection from her mother. That has been the faviorite part of the book for me.

“If there was no such thing as the Internet, I’m not sure my life would change much. I’d still come home, lie on my bed, look out the window to the big tree next to my house, and see whether the black bird with the yellow crested feather was sitting on her three babies. I’d dream about being one of the baby birds with my mother cuddled up next to me. I’d imagine falling asleep beside her belly then waking up when she’d gone. I’d chirp with my mouth open wide, sing for my mother, and tell her how hungry and lonely I was feeling. She’d hear me, fly back to the nest, and stuff my mouth with food.”

Pleng’s character has developed not only as a daring young child but as an intelligent and caring one too. He meets Billy in the halfway of the story who is a disabled orphan. The conversation between these two kids shows that Billy is also a smart kid who has surpassed typical thinking of a child just as Pleng. By the end of the novel, a sweet end gets mingled by bitterness due to the disappearance of Billy but that scene has woven nicely showing the true nature of Pleng’s dad and the good heart of Pleng.

Anyway the real adventurous and strong nature of Pleng comes out when her father leaves her unattended to be with his new wife and kids and the flood attack. After fleeing from her home she gets so many life threatening situations including her head getting injured as well. However she makes her way through all the difficulties showing courage and strength which makes all the readers to get goosbumps. She fights her way through the flood water and comes to an island where she finds only mangos to fulfill her hunger.

“I plucked four of the yellow fruits from the tree, tore their skin off with my bare hands, and devoured them like an animal.”

Then she comes to a deserted house of a fisherman where she decides to stay in spite of all the cockroaches and insects. Before she leaves the house she writes a letter to the real inhabitants of the house explaining her stay, thanking them and mentioning she is going to pay them back for the things she consumed during her stay. I appreciate the attention Patrick has given even to the little things. That is a quality every children book writer should have.

She sets off from fisherman’s house as well and eventually finds out from a newspaper that her death has been declared. This arouses her determination to survive and go home. Then she comes to an island filled with snakes which is another favorite part of this book for me. There she gets to kill snakes in order to find her something to eat and gets to a deadly battle with a python too.

“I uncoiled the heavy snake from around my body and dragged it back to the fire pit. The python’s meat fed me for many days”

Finally she gets rescued by a helicopter and for her surprise she finds out that she has become famous due to her miraculous survival from the flood. Her struggle to survive becomes a struggle to cope up with being popular. Her father comes into this scenario also to get advantages from her popularity. Among the mess of people trying to bug her all the time, she meets Billy again with whom she can be a normal person again. But there again her father turns up when she is not at home and drives Billy away putting Pleng into a long misery leading her to destroy her own popularity even. Anyway in the end everything becomes right making her a star again but with Billy’s disappearance it becomes a “bittersweet” end. This may be the hint Patrick is giving to say that Pleng is surpassing her life as a child.

Having read many novels and stories I believe Pleng’s Song is an idea book for children. It shows bravery, daring, affection, love and the need to stand up for ourselves no matter what the outcome may be. The story line is clear and fast flowing keeping the reader’s attention undivided. The tinge of humor in words is also not over or under done. Overall, Pleng’s Song is a book you all should read and present to your kids and nieces as well!


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