Books by Vincent Nasta

ADAM'S WAR by Sonia Levitin
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 1994

The Angels are desperate for a meeting place; Adam and Mike can't have friends in while their parents are at work, Hector's sisters are too bossy, Brendan lives far away. The shack in the park looks like a perfect clubhouse, but no sooner have they claimed it than they're challenged by the bigger, more numerous, and less principled Terrestrials. But honor must be served; despite misgivings, Adam tries to enlist new members and urges his troop to ``war.'' In the eventual battle, the Angels are betrayed by a hoped-for recruit, and the arsenal includes rocks, sticks, and a rifle brought by a Terrestrial. When Adam tackles him, a dog is shot and killed—the beloved pet of a troubled old veteran, a handsome animal the boys had hoped to make their mascot. Levitin's easily read narration is carefully framed to present issues—the boys' need for place and purpose, how trying to prove themselves imposes decisions, the war's escalation from game toward tragedy. Characters aren't realized with any depth in the simplistic result; still, questions of deep concern to boys like Adam are accessibly addressed and left realistically unresolved. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
PLANE SONG by Diane Siebert
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 30, 1993

Siebert (whose previous songs of praise include, most notably, Heartland, 1989) brings her rather clumsy lyrical style to aircraft and their flight ``above a world of/tundras/trees/fields and farmlands/cities/seas/humming/coming/through the day/toward horizons far away.'' In phrases ranging from doggerel and pre- primerese (``hear their engines!/see them fly!'') to straight nonfiction, she surveys many kinds and uses of planes, big and small, civilian and military. The words, in a handsome bold sans- serif, black or white, are superimposed on Nasta's sweeping double-spread paintings, which—even more tellingly—evoke the vast sky, towering clouds, twinkling lights of a city seen from the air, and the various aircraft. Overall, an appealing book, celebrating its subject as intended; though the persistent rhymes and rhythm don't help much, they don't hurt, either. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE MOON OF THE WINTER BIRD by Vincent Nasta
ANIMALS
Released: Jan. 19, 1970

The song sparrow in the Ohio dooryard in December has become a winter bird inadvertently: "his inner signal (to migrate) had not functioned." Unlike the other creatures in this series, he is an exception, and he differs from them also in harkening to the presence of people: the upstairs alarm clock rouses him, the emergence of the man of the house prompts him to add his droppings to the pile below. Contrasting with the precision of his habits are the randomness of his activities, a matter of watching a woodpecker or playing with juncos. There is less urgency here, and the focus is diffused, shifting between the life story of a song sparrow (e.g. contending earlier with a catbird that would sneak eggs into his nest) and the pursuits of any winter bird. The climax, however, catches you up: literally "scared stiff" by the cat locked out only a leap from his perch, the sparrow stays awake all night, protected by his stillness but using up energy—and losing weight—on account of his fright. Other crises impend yet the longest day has passed and a clock in his body promises the return of spring. Looser and less obviously useful than some of its predecessors, this has nevertheless a unique lesson: out of his element the sparrow retains his sense of the seasonal cycle. Read full book review >