An enthralling tale that demystifies Wicca, humanizes homeless families and inspires reflection on friendship, forgiveness...

BODY OF WATER

A compelling story rife with drama, suspense and heart.

Twelve-year-old Ember Goforth-Shook is not the most popular or pretty girl in school, and it is obvious that the community doesn’t understand or respect her family’s religion, which her mom describes as “Not Quite Wicca.” But things are not so bad, really, at least until a raging fire destroys the family’s trailer in less than an hour. Everyone escapes except Ember’s dog, Widdershins. What’s worse, Ember suspects that her very best, and only, friend Anson had something to do with the fire. Ember’s family moves to a campground, where they scrounge every day for enough money to pay for their next night’s site rent and enough food to get by on. Having lost their tailoring and tarot-card businesses, Ember’s parents try desperately to find some work, but it isn’t easy when you have no decent clothes and no phone number or permanent address. For her part, Ember concentrates on taking care of little sister Ivy and making it back to the scene of the fire every Wednesday, poking around in the ashes and working on a revenge spell for Anson, a spell she’s less certain she wants to follow through on with each passing week. Dooley puts readers directly into the center of Ember’s plight with a heartfelt first-person narration.

An enthralling tale that demystifies Wicca, humanizes homeless families and inspires reflection on friendship, forgiveness and moving forward. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-61254-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Stands out neither as a folk-tale retelling, a coming-of-age story, nor a Holocaust novel.

MAPPING THE BONES

A Holocaust tale with a thin “Hansel and Gretel” veneer from the author of The Devil’s Arithmetic (1988).

Chaim and Gittel, 14-year-old twins, live with their parents in the Lodz ghetto, forced from their comfortable country home by the Nazis. The siblings are close, sharing a sign-based twin language; Chaim stutters and communicates primarily with his sister. Though slowly starving, they make the best of things with their beloved parents, although it’s more difficult once they must share their tiny flat with an unpleasant interfaith couple and their Mischling (half-Jewish) children. When the family hears of their impending “wedding invitation”—the ghetto idiom for a forthcoming order for transport—they plan a dangerous escape. Their journey is difficult, and one by one, the adults vanish. Ultimately the children end up in a fictional child labor camp, making ammunition for the German war effort. Their story effectively evokes the dehumanizing nature of unremitting silence. Nevertheless, the dense, distancing narrative (told in a third-person contemporaneous narration focused through Chaim with interspersed snippets from Gittel’s several-decades-later perspective) has several consistency problems, mostly regarding the relative religiosity of this nominally secular family. One theme seems to be frustration with those who didn’t fight back against overwhelming odds, which makes for a confusing judgment on the suffering child protagonists.

Stands out neither as a folk-tale retelling, a coming-of-age story, nor a Holocaust novel. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-25778-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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BAMBOO PEOPLE

Well-educated American boys from privileged families have abundant options for college and career. For Chiko, their Burmese counterpart, there are no good choices. There is never enough to eat, and his family lives in constant fear of the military regime that has imprisoned Chiko’s physician father. Soon Chiko is commandeered by the army, trained to hunt down members of the Karenni ethnic minority. Tai, another “recruit,” uses his streetwise survival skills to help them both survive. Meanwhile, Tu Reh, a Karenni youth whose village was torched by the Burmese Army, has been chosen for his first military mission in his people’s resistance movement. How the boys meet and what comes of it is the crux of this multi-voiced novel. While Perkins doesn’t sugarcoat her subject—coming of age in a brutal, fascistic society—this is a gentle story with a lot of heart, suitable for younger readers than the subject matter might suggest. It answers the question, “What is it like to be a child soldier?” clearly, but with hope. (author’s note, historical note) (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58089-328-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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