Hiznobyuti: Book Review

Hiznobyuti by Charles Ponti (English version of the French Okilele). This is a book review to focus on whether it could be used in your classroom. Read it at Miss Jenny's Classroom.Hiznobyuti is an outcast of his family. They don’t want him so he goes on an adventure with a friend to find a place where he is wanted and needed.

Title: Hiznobyuti
Author: Claude Ponti
Illustrator: Claude Ponti
Translator: Alyson Waters (English edition)
ISBN: 9780914671909          Language: English

Title: Okilélé          ISBN: 9782211064460          Language: French / Français

Classification: Fiction
Themes: relationships, persistence

What’s it about?
Hiznobyuti (pronounced he’s no beauty) is an outcast in his family. He isn’t like them at all and they treat him dreadfully. One day Hiznobyuti decides to make his own little home with Martin Clock, a friend he makes after he repairs him. The two eventually set off on an adventure together to find who is communiphoning with them.

The illustrations are fun, playful, and engaging – they vary from a full page to several smaller ones to show time progression.

This story is quite long and the structure isn’t clear.

Hiznobyuti by Charles Ponti. Before you buy make sure you head over to Miss Jenny's Classroom to read the review.

My Thoughts
I was so looking forward to reading Hiznobyuti. I haven’t read the original in French but I’m going to say straight-off-the-bat that something of the story got lost perhaps in translation. Translation, especially from French to English, seems to always come out soundly a little clunky or child-like from my experience with books I have read that have gone through the process.

My main issue with the story is that it goes on…and on…and on…similar to reading one of your student’s story writing attempts where each sentence begins with “And then…”. This is compounded by the high page count (in my opinion) of the book for the target audience. To start with the story does have a beginning – we meet Hiznobyuti and his family and they treat him horribly just because of how he looks but this isn’t something actually dealt with in the story. After Hiznobyuti is forced out of home (has his adventure) and then returns, suddenly he is treated as if he is the favourite child. There is no consequence for their treatment of Hiznobyuti.

There were many moments in the story where I was just lost – such as the ‘black cold’ – which Hiznobyuti has apparently always had but not mentioned – that suddenly appeared to save the day. And then at the end with going to find a princess…there is just too much going on in the storyline to make it make sense…and no real ending.

Sorry to say but this book just didn’t tick the boxes for me. I don’t see this version going well in a class – I think the title would definitely have them interested – but that the drawn out story or calamity after calamity would wear thin and lose their interest (like it did mine).

Special thanks to Archipelago Books and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of the book.

What do you think?