NACKY PATCHER AND THE CURSE OF THE DRY-LAND BOATS

A one-footed ex-thief and a homeless orphan with a ruined hand figure prominently in this ambitious tale of a town that unites to rebuild a clipper ship. Some say that Yole lies under a curse, sitting as it does on the infertile bed of a berry-blue sea that was drained generations ago by land speculators. In any case, it’s never amounted to much—until ne’er-do-well Nacky and young Teedie Flinn find 40,000 pieces of teak floating in the local (berry-blue) lake, and persuade the impoverished townsfolk to undertake the seemingly pointless task of fitting them all together. There are obstacles aplenty to overcome—notably the schemes of rapacious landlord Mally Baloo—but overcome they are, and though things don’t work out quite as planned, by the end Nacky’s in love, injustices have been corrected and Yole has become a workers’ paradise. There isn’t much here to hook young readers; more a prose stylist than a storyteller, Kluger salts his narrative with fanciful names and words. The pace ambles, he pays more attention to the adult characters and he blithely disregards internal logic to trot in convenient solutions to every problem. A noble effort, but may struggle to find an audience. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: June 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-399-24604-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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THE LIGHTNING THIEF

From the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series , Vol. 1

Edgar Award–winning Riordan leaves the adult world of mystery to begin a fantasy series for younger readers. Twelve-year-old Percy (full name, Perseus) Jackson has attended six schools in six years. Officially diagnosed with ADHD, his lack of self-control gets him in trouble again and again. What if it isn’t his fault? What if all the outrageous incidents that get him kicked out of school are the result of his being a “half-blood,” the product of a relationship between a human and a Greek god? Could it be true that his math teacher Mrs. Dodds transformed into a shriveled hag with bat wings, a Fury, and was trying to kill him? Did he really vanquish her with a pen that turned into a sword? One need not be an expert in Greek mythology to enjoy Percy’s journey to retrieve Zeus’s master bolt from the Underworld, but those who are familiar with the deities and demi-gods will have many an ah-ha moment. Along the way, Percy and his cohort run into Medusa, Cerberus and Pan, among others. The sardonic tone of the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7868-5629-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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KEVIN AND HIS DAD

There is something profoundly elemental going on in Smalls’s book: the capturing of a moment of unmediated joy. It’s not melodramatic, but just a Saturday in which an African-American father and son immerse themselves in each other’s company when the woman of the house is away. Putting first things first, they tidy up the house, with an unheralded sense of purpose motivating their actions: “Then we clean, clean, clean the windows,/wipe, wipe, wash them right./My dad shines in the windows’ light.” When their work is done, they head for the park for some batting practice, then to the movies where the boy gets to choose between films. After a snack, they work their way homeward, racing each other, doing a dance step or two, then “Dad takes my hand and slows down./I understand, and we slow down./It’s a long, long walk./We have a quiet talk and smile.” Smalls treats the material without pretense, leaving it guileless and thus accessible to readers. Hays’s artwork is wistful and idyllic, just as this day is for one small boy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-79899-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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