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Based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, Life of Pi is a magical adventure story centering on Pi Patel, the precocious son of a zookeeper.
After a shipwreck, Pi is found adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a 26-foot lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, all fighting for survival.
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Life of Pi is literature, and very good literature, as testified by its collection of awards (including the 2002 Man Booker prize). All four actors that play Pi Patel across his various stages of life portray him perfectly – from a questioning boy, to an anguished teen, to the zen-like repose of a man who has survived troubled times.
Similarly, you’re going to need some fine CGI (or some very talented animal wranglers) to have that kind of Bengal tigal on-screen time.

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Dwellers in Pondicherry, India, the family decides to move to Canada, hitching a ride on a huge freighter. This is certainly no reason to exclude it from a YA audience, but could well be why adults are so keen to claim it as their own. Pi is recounting his great story (and other, smaller stories that are not without their own moments of greatness) to the author.
A few characters condensed here, some emotional stakes increased there… just a few tweaks that are essential in translating the written word into an engaging visual performace. It has amazing footage and digital effects that not only bring a whole zoo to the screen, but a whole character to life in Richard Parker (the infamous tiger).

What message we take from that is up to us. For myself, I find significance in the ideas that art is beauty, and belief is powerful. Reading it is akin to lying down on a sheltered beach and having the waves lap at your heels (slowly drowning you with the rising tide). The plot is a little slow in the middle, but by that stage you are too far immersed in the journey, and by the end you are glad you hung on because the resolution is challenging and haunting.
As well as making animals real, director Ang Lee delivers an utterly saturated, beautiful cinemascape of life at sea. It is a story that begs to be shared, a book that opens dialogues and stimulates conversation.

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life of pi book nz

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