THUNDER ROLLING IN THE MOUNTAINS

Seen through the eyes of Chief Joseph's daughter, Sound of Running Feet, O'Dell's last novel (coauthored and completed after his death by his wife) recounts the circuitous, tragic journey of the Ne-mee-poo (Nez Perce) from their Oregon home to the Lapwai Reservation in Idaho. Wisely recognizing that there's no way to fight the entrenching whites, Chief Joseph counters calls to war from dissenting tribal leaders and agrees to lead his people on what becomes an epic ordeal. Attacked by settlers en route, they win some battles against the "Blue Coats,"but the decimated tribe makes it into Crow territory only to find that their former allies are in league with the Army. Heading for refuge with Sitting Bull in Canada, they're caught in a surprise attack that leaves no choice but surrender. Bringing this bleak historical episode to life in spare, supple prose that echoes Joseph's own dignified words, the authors offer a fascinating look at the heroism of ordinary people. While the strong-willed narrator, her father, and her brave betrothed at first seem larger than life, it is quickly apparent that they don't consider themselves as such; and though she wishes she could fight, the girl dutifully takes her place caring for the young and the infirm. The authors don't tone down war's violence; they simply present it with unembellished clarity that is certain to leave a lasting impression, ending on a memorable note of reconciliation. A fitting end to a distinguished career. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-395-59966-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1992

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An engaging novel-in-poems that imagines one earnest, impassioned teenage girl’s experience of the Japanese-American...

DUST OF EDEN

Crystal-clear prose poems paint a heart-rending picture of 13-year-old Mina Masako Tagawa’s journey from Seattle to a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II.

This vividly wrought story of displacement, told from Mina’s first-person perspective, begins as it did for so many Japanese-Americans: with the bombs dropping on Pearl Harbor. The backlash of her Seattle community is instantaneous (“Jap, Jap, Jap, the word bounces / around the walls of the hall”), and Mina chronicles its effects on her family with a heavy heart. “I am an American, I scream / in my head, but my mouth is stuffed / with rocks; my body is a stone, like the statue / of a little Buddha Grandpa prays to.” When Roosevelt decrees that West Coast Japanese-Americans are to be imprisoned in inland camps, the Tagawas board up their house, leaving the cat, Grandpa’s roses and Mina’s best friend behind. Following the Tagawas from Washington’s Puyallup Assembly Center to Idaho’s Minidoka Relocation Center (near the titular town of Eden), the narrative continues in poems and letters. In them, injustices such as endless camp lines sit alongside even larger ones, such as the government’s asking interned young men, including Mina’s brother, to fight for America.

An engaging novel-in-poems that imagines one earnest, impassioned teenage girl’s experience of the Japanese-American internment. (historical note) (Verse/historical fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1739-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

THE CONSPIRACY

From the Plot to Kill Hitler series , Vol. 1

Near the end of World War II, two kids join their parents in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

Max, 12, lives with his parents and his older sister in a Berlin that’s under constant air bombardment. During one such raid, a mortally wounded man stumbles into the white German family’s home and gasps out his last wish: “The Führer must die.” With this nighttime visitation, Max and Gerta discover their parents have been part of a resistance cell, and the siblings want in. They meet a colorful band of upper-class types who seem almost too whimsical to be serious. Despite her charming levity, Prussian aristocrat and cell leader Frau Becker is grimly aware of the stakes. She enlists Max and Gerta as couriers who sneak forged identification papers to Jews in hiding. Max and Gerta are merely (and realistically) cogs in the adults’ plans, but there’s plenty of room for their own heroism. They escape capture, rescue each other when they’re caught out during an air raid, and willingly put themselves repeatedly at risk to catch a spy. The fictional plotters—based on a mix of several real anti-Hitler resistance cells—are portrayed with a genuine humor, giving them the space to feel alive even in such a slim volume.

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35902-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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