NEW FOUND LAND

LEWIS AND CLARK’S VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY

In the flood of volumes marking the bicentennial of the epic journey, Wolf manages something fresh and alive—a mammoth novel of poetic narratives in 14 voices that treats the trek to the Pacific and back as a drama of many players, many voices. Voices such as Sacagawea’s sadness and longing, the spirited dialogues of the Field brothers, the chatty observations of 16-year-old George Shannon, William Clark’s gentlemanly tone, his slave York’s restrained commentaries, and the Newfoundland dog’s sensory descriptions. Some characters are made up and the personalities of others are exaggerated for effect to bring readers right into the mind, heart, and soul of the crew. Abundant detail and sharply defined characters are the fruits of four years of research, represented by an excellent author’s note, a fascinating “What Became of Them?” section, good maps, and a list of the crew and the Native American nations encountered. The volume’s size may intimidate some readers, but this is a must for libraries, a treasure for classrooms. (expedition miscellany, bibliography, Internet resources, glossary) (Fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-7636-2113-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2004

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THE BOOK THIEF

When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as “an attempt—a flying jump of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.” When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor’s wife’s library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel’s experiences move Death to say, “I am haunted by humans.” How could the human race be “so ugly and so glorious” at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83100-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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THE LOUD SILENCE OF FRANCINE GREEN

It’s 1949, and 13-year-old Francine Green lives in “the land of ‘Sit down, Francine’ and ‘Be quiet, Francine’ ” at All Saints School for Girls in Los Angeles. When she meets Sophie Bowman and her father, she’s encouraged to think about issues in the news: the atomic bomb, peace, communism and blacklisting. This is not a story about the McCarthy era so much as one about how one girl—who has been trained to be quiet and obedient by her school, family, church and culture—learns to speak up for herself. Cushman offers a fine sense of the times with such cultural references as President Truman, Hopalong Cassidy, Montgomery Clift, Lucky Strike, “duck and cover” and the Iron Curtain. The dialogue is sharp, carrying a good part of this story of friends and foes, guilt and courage—a story that ought to send readers off to find out more about McCarthy, his witch-hunt and the First Amendment. Though not a happily-ever-after tale, it dramatizes how one person can stand up to unfairness, be it in front of Senate hearings or in the classroom. (author’s note) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-618-50455-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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