High marks for ambition: Willard recasts Milton’s epic poem into measured, often powerful prose, preserving the original’s plot and themes, and at least a sense of its grand vision, but condensing or excising its long speeches, wordy descriptive passages, and sermons. Satan’s beguiling (to some) pride and courage still come through clearly (“Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven. Hail Horrors! Receive your new ruler”), as, later, does Eve’s culpability—“What if I’m banished? Adam will marry another Eve and live happily in Eden with her. No, Adam must share my fate”—and the Archangel Michael’s concluding recitation of Old Testament events and New Testament redemption. Tiny figures act out the story’s central moments with elfin grace in Daly’s small, occasional, delicately detailed paintings, adding a sort of distant elegance. Willard retraces Milton’s narrative arc, though she divides it into 17 chapters, rather than the original’s 10 (later 12), and closes with a biographical note. Readers expecting a radical or modernized retelling may be disappointed, but even in this reduced form, it’s still a huge and moving story. (Fiction. 11-13, adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-85097-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2004

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In the spirit of Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic (1988), with a mix of historical details about the women's-suffrage...


Travels in time give a middle-class girl the courage to fight for both women's suffrage and her own dreams.

Sixteen-year-old Miriam, lover of typography, wants nothing more than to train at her father's print shop. But respectable, well-to-do girls don't work with heavy machinery in 1912 Portland, Ore. Miriam's immigrant Jewish parents, proud of the future they've built from poverty, intend an advantageous marriage for their only living child. If befriending a lovely pair of poor young suffragists isn't enough to make Miriam rebel, what is? Perhaps time travel is what she needs. Miriam is visited by her biblical relative, Serakh, who begs Miriam to travel back in time to help her ancestors. The daughters of Zelophehad seek a favor from Moses, and Miriam is needed to provide them with courage. Miriam pops back and forth between worlds: well-to-do Portland, where she makes morning calls and attends fancy-dress parties; biblical Moab; and the equally exotic, alien environment of suffragist marches and working-class neighborhoods. It takes all three to help her find the initiative, empathy and common sense to help push her toward adulthood.

In the spirit of Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic (1988), with a mix of historical details about the women's-suffrage movement and early printing, tied together with a very Jewish thread of historical continuity . (Historical fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-932010-41-1

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Ooligan Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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Fans of King-Smith’s light, wry animal stories (The Spotty Pig, 1997, etc.) will be shocked by this brutal Christian allegory. The creatures of Godhanger Wood go about, as is their nature, feeding on the helpless and unwary, keeping an eye out for the hunter ironically dubbed “the gamekeeper.” Meanwhile, on a great cedar of Lebanon perches the golden-feathered Skymaster, dispensing wisdom and cryptic warnings to the 12 birds who have been drawn to listen. Opening with a rabbit doe’s grisly death at the hands (literally) of the gamekeeper, the slaughter continues until, ultimately, the Skymaster is gunned down, to hang on a cross-shaped gibbet, just as the gamekeeper’s other trophies have; although an old raven later sees the Skymaster ascend heavenward, the implied promise is less likely to make an impression on readers than the ugly events leading up to it. Rendered with detail and drama reminiscent of Audubon’s, Davidson’s accomplished black-and-white wildlife portraits ennoble their animal subjects, and effectively capture the dark, tone of this radical change of pace from a popular, author. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-517-80035-7

Page Count: 151

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1998

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