Welcome back, Owd (Old) Bob! (Historical fiction. 10-14)




Over 100 years after his birth in print, Bob, Son of Battle is seeking a new audience. He deserves one.

Ollivant’s late-19th-century tale—invariably described as a children’s “classic”—tells of two sheepherding dogs at the top of their craft, the masters of these dogs and the hatred and jealousy of one for the other, and the quest for the coveted Shepherds’ Trophy—not once but thrice. It is also a boy’s coming-of-age story, a love story and a mystery of the Black Killer (of sheep). Ollivant is a master storyteller, and he plays a veritable fandango on the heartstrings when the identity of the killer is disclosed. Popular in its day, the work is now virtually unknown. Davis’ intention with her adaptation is to bring this worthy tale to new generations of readers. Her major change is the transposition into modern English of Ollivant’s extensive use of the Cumbrian dialect. Other unfamiliar English and Scottish words and expressions are also modernized. Is this effort successful? Indeed, yes. The power and sweep of the original remain, and those changes made are thoughtfully and sensitively executed. Is something lost in translation? Yes, that too. Ollivant’s use of dialect had beautifully pinned the story to its time and place. Nevertheless, for the modern reader, this new version is a winner.

Welcome back, Owd (Old) Bob! (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59017-729-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: New York Review Books

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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An outstanding new edition of this popular modern classic (Newbery Award, 1961), with an introduction by Zena Sutherland and...


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Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1990

ISBN: 0-395-53680-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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