Anemic, dispirited distillations that argue eloquently for waiting till kids are ready for the originals.

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A WORLD FULL OF DICKENS STORIES

Eight classic tales of rags to (literal or at least spiritual) riches, in long summary versions.

Arranged in no discernible order, the mini-tales open with chapter-length versions of Oliver Twist, close on Hard Times, and in between offer renditions of A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, and four more dramas. Along with occasional full-page scenes Hansen adds an opening gallery of major characters to each entry and a smallish illustration on every page. These do a bit to relieve the dense-looking blocks of narrative—though her small, hunched, wooden-looking figures, almost all bearing the stark-white, pink-cheeked complexions of mimes, only intensify the general air of gloom. McAllister successfully encapsulates the themes, main events, and leading character types in each story. Her efforts to evoke Dickens’ rich language are, however, at best pedestrian: “If you are wondering if I turn out to be the hero then you must read on,” David Copperfield tells readers; “It was the best of times but also the worst of times”; “From that day on nobody ever celebrated the spirit of Christmas better than Ebenezer Scrooge. And may that be true of us all.” Young readers intimidated by the bulk of the originals will find a livelier invitation to take the plunge in Marcia Williams’ Charles Dickens and Friends (2002), particularly when conjoined with Deborah Hopkinson’s A Boy Called Dickens, illustrated by John Hendrix (2012).

Anemic, dispirited distillations that argue eloquently for waiting till kids are ready for the originals. (biographical note, timeline) (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4772-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Not a stand-alone, unlike the opener, but still a worthy tale built around a core of clashing cultures and shared human...

THE RAIDERS

From the Inuk Quartet series , Vol. 2

The second episode in the Danish author's Inuk Quartet sends young Icelander Leiv and his Inuit friends on a new mission of vengeance after Viking raiders plunder his newfound Greenland home.

They have spent an idyllic spring and summer recovering from the trek in Shipwreck (2011); it's been interrupted only by a quick clash with a longship captained by the brutal Thorleifsson brothers. Now, Apuluk and Narua set out to rejoin their nomadic clan with Leiv in tow. That friendly visit turns into a punitive expedition after the Thorleifssons massacre most of a native settlement and loot Leiv's new home. The translated narrative reads smoothly, and high production values result in a handsome, open page design. Its visual appeal is enhanced by Cann's stylized but crisply drawn and richly colored images of arctic wildlife and fur-clad human residents. Though wordy descriptions of seasonal cycles and farm life slow down the first several chapters, the pacing picks up on the way to a violent climax, gory ends for the bad guys, and (pointing to developments in volumes to come) Leiv's decision to explore northward in search of a land route to fabled Vinland.

Not a stand-alone, unlike the opener, but still a worthy tale built around a core of clashing cultures and shared human values.   (Historical fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-84686-744-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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A quiet reminder that the stars are not out of reach, with work and well-timed help.

CLEAR SKIES

Increasingly severe symptoms of claustrophobia threaten to derail 11-year-old Arno’s dreams of becoming an astronomer.

It’s 1961, the space race is on, and it seems everyone has stars in their eyes. Being a confirmed sky watcher with an eye-rolling habit of rattling off astro-facts at the drop of a hat, Arno is at first over the moon when he wins an invitation to the opening of a new observatory nearby. But then the thought of the dark and the crowds—and a panic attack in a movie theater—dim all the claustrophobic boy’s hopes. At the same time Arno’s friend Buddy finds his own hopes of becoming an astronaut dashed after he realizes why he can’t see that Mars is red. Though their personalities clash by day, a confessional nighttime meeting in Arno’s backyard brings out their better natures, as Arno offers Buddy telescopic views of astronomical wonders, and Buddy suggests coping techniques for Arno drawn from the astronaut-training program. Budding chemist Mindy leads a supporting cast that, like the protagonist and his family, defaults to white. Writing in a believably childlike third-person, Kerrin adds period details and handwritten pages of “Deep Thoughts” from Arno’s astronomy notebook to her low-key tale, and she closes with notes on the space program’s later history…including a mention of Roger Crouch, a colorblind payload specialist.

A quiet reminder that the stars are not out of reach, with work and well-timed help. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77306-240-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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