TUCKET'S GOLD

The fourth installment of Paulsen’s Tucket Adventures (Tucket’s Ride, 1997, etc.) is instantly involving, with plotting that rockets along. Francis Tucket, 15, and his two young charges, the talkative Lottie and her little brother, Billy, are on the run, one step ahead of the ruthless Comancheros, “the dirt-meanest men Francis had ever seen in a world full of mean men.” The children are valuable commodities on the frontier, easily “sold or traded into slavery.” As the youngsters flee, they battle the elements, find a treasure, meet up with a tribe of friendly Pueblo Indians, and are captured by a pair of pitiless thieves. The book is bursting with clearly limned, colorful characters and despite his lightning pace, Paulsen finds time for softer moments as well. Francis, for example, who hasn’t seen his kin since he was stolen by the Pawnee, realizes that he loves Lottie and Billy, and that they “were more of a family to him than the one he’d lost.” This invigorating story is just right for readers who like their action at a gallop. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-385-32501-0

Page Count: 97

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1999

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It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that...

BEN FRANKLIN'S IN MY BATHROOM!

Antics both instructive and embarrassing ensue after a mysterious package left on their doorstep brings a Founding Father into the lives of two modern children.

Summoned somehow by what looks for all the world like an old-time crystal radio set, Ben Franklin turns out to be an amiable sort. He is immediately taken in hand by 7-year-old Olive for a tour of modern wonders—early versions of which many, from electrical appliances in the kitchen to the Illinois town’s public library and fire department, he justly lays claim to inventing. Meanwhile big brother Nolan, 10, tags along, frantic to return him to his own era before either their divorced mom or snoopy classmate Tommy Tuttle sees him. Fleming, author of Ben Franklin’s Almanac (2003) (and also, not uncoincidentally considering the final scene of this outing, Our Eleanor, 2005), mixes history with humor as the great man dispenses aphorisms and reminiscences through diverse misadventures, all of which end well, before vanishing at last. Following a closing, sequel-cueing kicker (see above) she then separates facts from fancies in closing notes, with print and online leads to more of the former. To go with spot illustrations of the evidently all-white cast throughout the narrative, Fearing incorporates change-of-pace sets of sequential panels for Franklin’s biographical and scientific anecdotes. Final illustrations not seen.

It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that adds flavor without weight. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93406-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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A story just as relevant in our world, “where innocent people face persecution and death for making a choice about what they...

BREAKING STALIN'S NOSE

“There’s no place for the likes of you in our class,” Sasha Zaichik’s teacher tells him, and that seems to be the motto of the whole Stalinist nation.

Yelchin’s debut novel does a superb job of depicting the tyranny of the group, whether residents of a communal apartment, kids on the playground, students in the classroom or government officials. It’s the readiness of the group to create outsiders—bad ones, “unreliables,” “wreckers”—by instilling fear in everyone that chills. Not many books for such a young audience address the Stalinist era, when, between 1923 and 1953, leaving a legacy of fear for future generations. Joseph Stalin’s State Security was responsible for exiling, executing or imprisoning 20 million people. Sasha is 10 years old and is devoted to Stalin, even writing adoring letters to Comrade Stalin expressing his eagerness at becoming a Young Pioneer. But his mother has died mysteriously, his father has been imprisoned and Sasha finds he has important moral choices to make. Yelchin’s graphite illustrations are an effective complement to his prose, which unfurls in Sasha’s steady, first-person voice, and together they tell an important tale.

A story just as relevant in our world, “where innocent people face persecution and death for making a choice about what they believe to be right,” as that of Yelchin’s childhood. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9216-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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