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Part refugee story, part 9/11 remembrance, this is a welcome addition to a small shelf.

Stranded for several days in Gander, Newfoundland, after American airspace was closed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Rabia, a 14-year-old Afghan girl, and 11-year-old New Yorker Colin unexpectedly connect.

Walsh has used facts of the extraordinary welcome some 6,000 grounded air passengers received as unexpected guests of the surprised islanders as background for the stories of two young people: the Afghan refugee, escaping with what remains of her family, and the American sixth-grader, worried about the possible dissolution of his. It is the open friendliness of Canadian sixth-grader Leah that connects the two. As many Americans did, Colin reacts first with hostility, mindlessly connecting Rabia's Afghan nationality and Muslim faith with the acts of Osama bin Laden's followers. Learning her story makes him more sympathetic. And, though somewhat confusingly told from different points of view, this is essentially Rabia’s story. There are flashbacks to earlier, happier times before she lost a foot to a land mine, her father was arrested, her oldest brother died, and her second brother was sent away. When her mother has a heart attack in Gander, Rabia rightly feels overwhelmed. Happily, responsible adults step in.

Part refugee story, part 9/11 remembrance, this is a welcome addition to a small shelf. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-926920-79-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Second Story Press

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Well-educated American boys from privileged families have abundant options for college and career. For Chiko, their Burmese counterpart, there are no good choices. There is never enough to eat, and his family lives in constant fear of the military regime that has imprisoned Chiko’s physician father. Soon Chiko is commandeered by the army, trained to hunt down members of the Karenni ethnic minority. Tai, another “recruit,” uses his streetwise survival skills to help them both survive. Meanwhile, Tu Reh, a Karenni youth whose village was torched by the Burmese Army, has been chosen for his first military mission in his people’s resistance movement. How the boys meet and what comes of it is the crux of this multi-voiced novel. While Perkins doesn’t sugarcoat her subject—coming of age in a brutal, fascistic society—this is a gentle story with a lot of heart, suitable for younger readers than the subject matter might suggest. It answers the question, “What is it like to be a child soldier?” clearly, but with hope. (author’s note, historical note) (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58089-328-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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A satisfying story of family, friendship and small-town cooperation in a 21st-century world.

Sent to stay with octogenarian relatives for the summer, 14-year-old Mike ends up coordinating a community drive to raise $40,000 for the adoption of a Romanian orphan. He’ll never be his dad's kind of engineer, but he learns he’s great at human engineering.

Mike’s math learning disability is matched by his widower father's lack of social competence; the Giant Genius can’t even reliably remember his son’s name. Like many of the folks the boy comes to know in Do Over, Penn.—his great-uncle Poppy silent in his chair, the multiply pierced-and-tattooed Gladys from the bank and “a homeless guy” who calls himself Past—Mike feels like a failure. But in spite of his own lack of confidence, he provides the kick start they need to cope with their losses and contribute to the campaign. Using the Internet (especially YouTube), Mike makes use of town talents and his own webpage design skills and entrepreneurial imagination. Math-definition chapter headings (Compatible Numbers, Zero Property, Tessellations) turn out to apply well to human actions in this well-paced, first-person narrative. Erskine described Asperger’s syndrome from the inside in Mockingbird (2010). Here, it’s a likely cause for the rift between father and son touchingly mended at the novel's cinematic conclusion.

A satisfying story of family, friendship and small-town cooperation in a 21st-century world. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 9, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25505-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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