JIP, HIS STORY

Set in the 1850s, this story centers on a boy named for his supposed abandonment by gypsies and for his swarthy complexion. Jip lives on the local poor farm, doing chores and caring for the animals. He befriends a caged lunatic, "Put"; a menacing stranger appears who inquires about Jip's background and turns the boy's life upside down. As he straggles to find answers, he is given the opportunity to attend school and is befriended by the teacher, whom readers will recognize from Lyddie (1991), and her Quaker sweetheart. Through this friendship, Jip is able to face his ancestry and the fact that he must escape or suffer dire consequences. As usual for Paterson, all the characterizations are penetrating—even the villains are interesting. An epilogue lets readers in on Jip's success in reaching Canada and his decisions as the Civil War begins. Unfortunately, the ending is abrupt: Put is sacrificed, and it is not clear what lesson Jip derives from putting his friend in harm's way. Regardless, this is fine historical fiction. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-525-67543-4

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1996

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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 Boyle’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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ASK ME NO QUESTIONS

Illegal immigrant sisters learn a lot about themselves when their family faces deportation in this compelling contemporary drama. Immigrants from Bangladesh, Nadira, her older sister Aisha and their parents live in New York City with expired visas. Fourteen-year-old Nadira describes herself as “the slow-wit second-born” who follows Aisha, the family star who’s on track for class valedictorian and a top-rate college. Everything changes when post-9/11 government crack-downs on Muslim immigrants push the family to seek asylum in Canada where they are turned away at the border and their father is arrested by U.S. immigration. The sisters return to New York living in constant fear of detection and trying to pretend everything is normal. As months pass, Aisha falls apart while Nadira uses her head in “a right way” to save her father and her family. Nadira’s need for acceptance by her family neatly parallels the family’s desire for acceptance in their adopted country. A perceptive peek into the lives of foreigners on the fringe. (endnote) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-4169-0351-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Ginee Seo/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2005

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