THE HAYMEADOW

Left in a remote mountain pasture to care for 6000 sheep, a Wyoming rancher's 14-year-old son has a typical Paulsen series of adventures. Tink, loyal hand who usually watches the herd, is dying of cancer, and John's widowed dad is with him; the ranch's taciturn other hand helps get the sheep to the haymeadow and leaves John with little instruction. But the boy is capable and courageous; in just two days, he has to deal with a skunk, a rattlesnake, a wounded dog, a stampede, a flash flood, a pack of voracious coyotes, and an injury that nearly kills him; remarkably, he recovers with the loss of a few sheep and the labels off his canned goods—only to confront a vicious bear. After 47 days, his dad comes to report that Tink, miraculously, is recovering; he plans to leave next morning but—after the first real talk father and son have ever had—decides to stay on for the summer's last weeks. Good enough as an adventure; Paulsen's trademark run-on sentences keep it moving, and he certainly understands coping with the wild, though the perils here are so unbelievably many that they become laughable. Meanwhile, John's fixation on the self-reliant great-grandfather who founded the ranch is not well enough integrated with either the action or the present-day relationships to serve its ostensible purpose of motivating John's character and behavior. An entertaining yarn, but a minor literary effort. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-385-30621-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1992

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THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point.

THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin.

The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyne’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice.

Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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