Books by Kathleen Benner Duble

THE ROOT OF MAGIC by Kathleen Benner Duble
Released: June 11, 2019

"Works better as fable than as fantasy. (Fiction. 9-12)"
A 12-year-old with a sick brother chooses between supernaturally comforting certainty and painful reality. Read full book review >
PHANTOMS IN THE SNOW by Kathleen Benner Duble
Released: Feb. 1, 2011

In 1944, when his parents die of smallpox, 15-year-old Noah Garrett is sent to live with his uncle, James Shelley, at Camp Hale, Colo. Lying about his age, he enters the life of the soldiers, a winter warfare unit called the Phantoms, and learns to ski, rappel and handle himself in war games. Despite his pacifist past and his nagging conscience, Noah comes to like the camaraderie of the men and feels proud of his new skills, and at the same time the initially off-putting Shelley comes to appreciate Noah as the only family he has. Though a purposively inspirational scene stretches credulity when Noah, now a 16-year-old pacifist soldier, is put in charge of a mission in the mountains of Italy, Duble has created a likable character in Noah, whose struggles to find out who he is and where he belongs in a world at war are convincingly portrayed and realistically resolved. Details ranging from the development of nylon and penicillin to the Holocaust, Normandy and Italian resistance add depth to this fine historical novel. (author's note, references, acknowledgments) (Historical fiction. 11-15)Read full book review >
THE STORY OF THE SAMSON by Kathleen Benner Duble
Released: July 1, 2008

In the house Grandpa built on a bluff above the sea, Sam listens once again to the story of his grandpa's sailing days on the Samson, a Norwegian seal-trapping ship with quite a history. Seemingly the Forrest Gump of ships, the Samson was in the same waters as the Titanic when it sank, but mistook distress signals for tricks played by customs ships. The Samson also rescued Shackleton's men in Antarctica, took Admiral Richard E. Byrd on his explorations of the polar region, became an exhibit at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair and ran aground, burned and sank off the coast of Nova Scotia. Duble's purposefully heartwarming story is an uneasy mix of the grandfather's frame narration and stories within his story, each with a bit of plot and dialogue independent of Grandpa's voice. The sepia tones of Grandpa's scrapbook alternate with action scenes in full-color oil illustrations; photographs of the famous vessel round out the volume. An interesting tale, but fact and fiction become unfortunately blurred. (timeline, author's note, bibliography, websites) (Informational picture book. 7-10)Read full book review >
BRAVO ZULU, SAMANTHA! by Kathleen Benner Duble
Released: April 1, 2007

When Sam finds out she's visiting her grandparents for a whole month of summer vacation, she's beyond bummed, especially because it means spending lots of time with her grandfather the Colonel, a grumpy retired fighter pilot. Besides his general crotchetiness, the Colonel irks Sam because he's always quizzing her on random aviation facts, while Sam would rather be rattling off weird facts, like the number of bacteria in a human mouth. Although Sam and the Colonel try to stay out of each other's way, Sam quickly realizes that the Colonel has a secret project, and she won't rest until it's uncovered. Although a warm account of a turbulent but strong relationship between a grandfather and granddaughter, this text remains flat until a surprise conflict in the final chapters slightly ratchets up the tension. (author's note, fact sources) (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
HEARTS OF IRON by Kathleen Benner Duble
Released: Nov. 1, 2006

As she did in The Sacrifice (2005), about the Salem witch trials, Duble examines the dynamics of outsiders and insiders, outcasts and dreamers, in a tight-knit community. Here, it's 1820 in a Connecticut mountain community dependent on their ironworks. The original workers came from Latvia, Lithuania, Switzerland and Sweden, the families stayed and each generation worked the furnace. Now, 15-year-old Jess dreams of a life off the mountain but is torn between his need to leave and his love for Lucy. And she must choose between her love for Jess and her father's wish for her to marry better and move to Boston. Though the story tends toward melodrama, and the ironworks feels like an underdeveloped character, the tangle of human affairs makes for a satisfying tale of home, community and the nature of love. (author's note, sources) (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
THE SACRIFICE by Kathleen Benner Duble
Released: Oct. 1, 2005

How could so much evil exist in such a little town? It seems the devil has come to nearby Salem Village, and several young girls are accusing neighbors of being witches, with three women already convicted. This is not the best time for ten-year-old Abigail Faulkner to have been punished in the stocks for her willful behavior, or for her father to be having his fits again. Though Abigail's grandfather, Andover's minister, believes the Salem girls are acting, their performances pure sport, powerful people believe them, and when the girls are called to Andover to root out witches there, the madness continues. Duble does a superb job of showing how the hysteria develops and how innocent people were trapped. She vividly evokes the horrors of Salem Town Prison, with the cold, the lack of food and the rats sometimes killing people off before trial dates ever arrived. One of the best fictional accounts for young readers about the witch trials and how good people eventually fought back. Marc Aronson's Witch-Hunt (2003) will provide additional background. (author's note, suggestions for further reading) (Fiction. 10-14) Read full book review >
PILOT MOM by Kathleen Benner Duble
Released: July 1, 2003

Jenny and her best friend K.C. get a tour of the air base and airplane where Jenny's Mom is a tanker pilot. Jenny fears for her mother and misses her when she's away, but she's also very proud of her. The girls get to go on the plane and try on the pilots' cool helmets. Jenny's mother loves her job, and allows Jenny talk through all of her worries, acknowledging and responding to them. She tells the girls about the time in Saudi Arabia the control tower wouldn't answer because they didn't think women should be pilots, and she had to get her male co-pilot to make the radio call. Marks's pictures are quite wonderful, gorgeous depictions of the planes, inside and out, on the ground and in the air. Jenny's blonde, K.C. is African-American; they and Jenny's parents and other people at the air base are fully and realistically rendered. A lot of information made palatable for young people while responding to their questions and fears in a post- "shock and awe" world. (Picture book. 5-10)Read full book review >
BRIDGING BEYOND by Kathleen Benner Duble
Released: May 1, 2001

A guilt-ridden teen relives her great-grandmother's past in a creepy psychological thriller that eventually buckles beneath thematic overload. When her best friend ends up in a coma, 15-year-old Anna is paralyzed by guilt at encouraging Jessica to drink and drive. Worse, her beloved great-grandmother Mimi dies soon after. In search of a fresh start, Anna's mother moves her daughters into Mimi's old house, where Anna's guilt, grief, and sense of dislocation are compounded by a series of vivid dreams—some delightful, some terrifying—in which she seems to become Mimi herself in her scandalous youth. Anna's self-obsessed wallowing is realistically portrayed, but also a bit tiresome; her dreams of the entrancing young Mimi and the desperate joie de vivre of her hedonistic pals are far more agreeable. Duble spins a number of intriguing threads in her debut: Anna's present inability to face Jessica's family, her troubled relationship with her mother, a mysterious old caretaker, the dangers of drinking, and the healing powers of music and art. Mimi's past features an assortment of dysfunctional families, an amnesia victim, a pair of tragic romances, and a near-death experience on a railroad bridge. Unfortunately, none of them has a chance to receive satisfactory development before the author starts off on another. By the time she drags in the pseudo-science of "genetic memories" to explain away Anna's dreams, any willing suspension of disbelief has been shattered. In the end, it's all just too much. (author's note) (Fiction. 12+)Read full book review >