PATROL

AN AMERICAN SOLDIER IN VIETNAM

Myers returns to the setting of his award-winning Fallen Angels (1988) with a stunning, unsettling picture book that attempts to put the reader into the heart and mind of an American soldier in Vietnam. The stream-of-consciousness narration takes the reader along on one patrol, as the unnamed grunt picks his way through the landscape, exchanges fire with “the enemy,” “secures” a village with the aid of grenades, and is airlifted back to the base. The spare, poetic text is written in the present tense, lending immediacy, and is packed with sensory details: “I lift my rifle and begin to rub the palm of my hand slowly along / its wooden stock. / The weather is hot, but the sweat that runs down my back feels cold.” Although the reader is told he moves with his squad, the protagonist seems to exist in psychic isolation and overload as he continually grapples with his uncertain understanding of his place, both physical and moral, relative to his enemy: “Crouched against a tree older than my grandfather, / I imagine the enemy crouching against / a tree older than his grandfather.” Grifalconi’s (One of the Problems of Everett Anderson, not reviewed, etc.) collage illustrations are remarkable, and suitably disturbing. A jungle effect is created by overlapping photographs of trees with close-up details of leaves, marbled paper, and negative space—all of which virtually overwhelm the human figures. The effect is claustrophobic and highly disorienting, made all the more so when the reader notices that the foliage is largely North American: maples and spruce appear, frequently with jolly wildflowers in the foreground. The selection of fauna is likewise confused and confusing: on one page, a giant snake rests its coils in the branches of a spruce; on the next, a quail stands next to an egret. These surreal illustrations brilliantly extend the text’s central question: just who is the enemy—and why, when he and I are so alike?—in this, the “land of my enemy?” Not exactly a fun read, but highly effective and very important. (Picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-028363-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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Remarkable.

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PRAIRIE LOTUS

A “half-Chinese and half-white” girl finds her place in a Little House–inspired fictional settler town.

After the death of her Chinese mother, Hanna, an aspiring dressmaker, and her White father seek a fresh start in Dakota Territory. It’s 1880, and they endure challenges similar to those faced by the Ingallses and so many others: dreary travel through unfamiliar lands, the struggle to protect food stores from nature, and the risky uncertainty of establishing a livelihood in a new place. Fans of the Little House books will find many of the small satisfactions of Laura’s stories—the mouthwatering descriptions of victuals, the attention to smart building construction, the glorious details of pleats and poplins—here in abundance. Park brings new depth to these well-trodden tales, though, as she renders visible both the xenophobia of the town’s White residents, which ranges in expression from microaggressions to full-out assault, and Hanna’s fight to overcome it with empathy and dignity. Hanna’s encounters with women of the nearby Ihanktonwan community are a treat; they hint at the whole world beyond a White settler perspective, a world all children deserve to learn about. A deeply personal author’s note about the story’s inspiration may leave readers wishing for additional resources for further study and more clarity about her use of Lakota/Dakota. While the cover art unfortunately evokes none of the richness of the text and instead insinuates insidious stereotypes, readers who sink into the pages behind it will be rewarded.

Remarkable. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-78150-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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