WARRIORS IN THE CROSSFIRE

In World War II, the United States fought Japan for control of the Pacific islands, but what about the people who already lived on those islands? This brief and powerful story will help to keep alive the memory of indigenous families caught in the crossfire between the Japanese and American armies. Kento, son of a Japanese official, and Joseph, a villager, are friends on the island of Saipan in the spring of 1944, and it is their friendship and experiences during the war, related in Joseph’s first-person point of view, that will bring history home. The final scene, in which thousands of Japanese men, women and children make suicidal leaps off Bonzai Cliff into the sea—and others are butchered before they ever get to the precipice—is so horrifying that this small tale will long linger. The understated design, which includes Japanese characters in the chapter titles and brief, impressionistic poems as chapter lead-ins, makes this volume stand out. An important and little-known perspective on World War II. (historical note, further reading) (Historical fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59078-661-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Front Street/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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FEVER 1793

In an intense, well-researched tale that will resonate particularly with readers in parts of the country where the West Nile virus and other insect-borne diseases are active, Anderson (Speak, 1999, etc.) takes a Philadelphia teenager through one of the most devastating outbreaks of yellow fever in our country’s history. It’s 1793, and though business has never been better at the coffeehouse run by Matilda’s widowed, strong-minded mother in what is then the national capital, vague rumors of disease come home to roost when the serving girl dies without warning one August night. Soon church bells are ringing ceaselessly for the dead as panicked residents, amid unrelenting heat and clouds of insects, huddle in their houses, stream out of town, or desperately submit to the conflicting dictates of doctors. Matilda and her mother both collapse, and in the ensuing confusion, they lose track of each other. Witnessing people behaving well and badly, Matilda first recovers slowly in a makeshift hospital, then joins the coffeehouse’s cook, Emma, a free African-American, in tending to the poor and nursing three small, stricken children. When at long last the October frosts signal the epidemic’s end, Emma and Matilda reopen the coffeehouse as partners, and Matilda’s mother turns up—alive, but a trembling shadow of her former self. Like Paul Fleischman’s Path of the Pale Horse (1983), which has the same setting, or Anna Myers’s Graveyard Girl (1995), about a similar epidemic nearly a century later, readers will find this a gripping picture of disease’s devastating effect on people, and on the social fabric itself. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-83858-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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THE HOUSE OF WINDJAMMER

Stronger on 17th-century historical detail than plot or character, this overblown series opener stars a dimwitted, unlikable Amsterdam teenager who suddenly finds himself heir to a family business tottering on the edge of bankruptcy. With conniving banker Hugo van Helsen pulling strings to complete their downfall in the wake of a disastrous trading expedition to the primitive Americas, the Windjammers need a miracle to save them. Leading a faintly Dickensian cast, sullen Adam Windjammer blunders about searching for such a miracle, having his fat repeatedly pulled from contrived fires by the far brighter and more competent Jade, Van Helsen’s adventurous, neglected daughter—until, after many trite set pieces and clumsily introduced clues, the search becomes superfluous when the Windjammers’ workmen voluntarily step forward to pay the family’s debts. Right. Richardson sets the stage for sequels from the first chapter on, but few readers are likely to want to read them. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-58234-811-1

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2003

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