A YELLOW WATERMELON

Twelve-year-old Ted Dillon is an innocent white boy in rural Alabama in 1948, but his new friendships with a black boy named Poudlum Robinson and an escaped black convict named Jake introduce him to a world where greed and racism intersect. Ted “reverse integrates” the cotton field so he can work next to Poudlum, and he finds a way to rob evil Old Man Cliff Creel in order to finance Jake’s passage to California and pay off the Robinsons’ delinquent property taxes. He likes this new role of latter-day Robin Hood, once Jake explains to him who Robin Hood was. It’s a fine, well-told tale of friendship between two smart, likable boys—one white, one black. In a scene akin to Deborah Wiles’s Freedom Summer (2001), anticipating the Civil Rights movement, Ted tells Poudlum, “And someday you gonna be able to walk in that drug store, sit down and have yourself some ice cream. You know what else, one day we’ll be able to go to school together, too.” A memorable, generous-hearted tale. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-58838-197-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2007

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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LOVE, STARGIRL

Fifteen-year-old Susan “Stargirl” Caraway has moved to Pennsylvania, but as independent and free-spirited as she is, she can’t seem to let go of Arizona and her old boyfriend Leo Borlock. She’s lonely, even in the midst of a loving family and a colorful cast of characters in her new town. There’s five-year-old spitfire Dootsie, agoraphobic Betty Lou, angry Alvina, Margie the donut queen and mysterious Perry, a potential new boy in Stargirl’s life. As much as readers will relish this community and wish Stargirl would get on with her life there and forget mooning over Leo, she can’t seem to, and the whole leisurely paced novel is “the world’s longest letter” to him. Humor, graceful writing, lively characters and important lessons about life will make this a hit with fans of Stargirl (2000) and anyone who likes a quiet, reflective novel. Those meeting Stargirl here for the first time will want to read the previous work to see if Leo is worthy of her devotion. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-375-81375-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2007

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