Only for those who can believe in a wise, courageous, sensitive, ten-year-old visionary. Skeptics can bypass.

CHRONICLER OF THE WINDS

Mankell departs from his distinguished Kurt Wallander crime series (Before the Frost, 2005, etc.) for the strange, sad tale of an African country boy who suffers too much and dies too young.

His name is Nelio, and bandits have wiped out his family and village with acts of inhuman cruelty. He can save his life, he’s told, if he kills his cousin, a playmate. Instead, he turns the pistol on his grinning captor, then runs. After interludes with a choleric albino dwarf and an ancient woman he first mistakes for a lizard, Nelio arrives in the city, friendless and frightened. But he’s a resourceful child. Before long, he prevails upon a street gang to accept and protect him (not easy); eventually, he becomes its leader. He also finds a home, a snuggery inside the hollow belly of a giant equestrian statue. Nelio is remarkable in every sense, declares narrator José Antonio Maria Vaz, the eponymous Chronicler of the Winds: Though only ten, he has “the experience and wisdom of someone who had lived to be a hundred.” José happens on Nelio, bleeding badly after being accidentally shot, takes the boy to the roof of his bakery and nurses his charge diligently, though both of them understand that the wounds are fatal. For nine nights, the Sheherazade-like Nelio tells the baker about his life in the streets, what he’s done, what he’s endured, what he’s learned. By the end, the enraptured José is imbued with a sense of mission, as if the child had known all along that the man was born to be his disciple.

Only for those who can believe in a wise, courageous, sensitive, ten-year-old visionary. Skeptics can bypass.

Pub Date: April 15, 2006

ISBN: 1-59558-058-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2006

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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