Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dobry, by Monica Shannon

This book follows Dobry, our title character, as he grows from a boy into a young man in his village in rural Bulgaria. He lives a typical peasant's life with his mother and grandfather, his father having been killed "in the war". The book occasionally references the unhappy times of Turkish occupation, so one can only assume that that war was one against the invaders, although this was never explicitly stated. The book observes the regular village and household chores that occur throughout the year- baking bread, stringing peppers from the autumn harvest, the migration of the storks, the coming of the gypsies in the spring, caring for the farm and animals.

We also meet Dobry's neighbors- the mayor, the widowed shoemaker and his daughter, Nena (who, in time, becomes Dobry's love interest), the schoolteacher, the miller, etc. Of special importance is Dobry's grandfather, who is known far and wide as the best storyteller. Throughout the book he shares many tales with Dobry and the villagers. Dobry also has his own art- he has become skilled at drawing, an unheard of skill in a rural village where more practical skills are needed to earn a living. Over time he also teaches himself to sculpt and carve. At the end of the book it is decided that he will go to Sofia to study to become a professional artist.

While this book was reasonably simple and Dobry is a charming character, I have to admit that I found it overall pretty bland. I know that there are readers who will find this one simply enchanting; it just didn't speak to me.

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