CAST TWO SHADOWS

Skeletons come and go from a wealthy South Carolina family’s closet when the British army arrives in this tale set during the Revolutionary War. While sister Georgia Ann has taken to dining nightly with haughty Lord Rawdon, Caroline Whitaker, 14, scorns the occupying officer; she has seen a friend hanged and her Patriot father thrown into prison. Word comes that brother Johnny, a member of the Loyalist militia, has been wounded, so Caroline and her “negra” grandmother, Miz Melindy, set out to bring him home. Caroline not only learns that Johnny has switched sides, but that her birth mother, Miz Melindy’s daughter, didn’t die (as she had always been told); she was shipped off to the West Indies as the price of Caroline’s acceptance as a Whitaker. Deftly incorporating facts into the background but leaving most of the violence offstage, Rinaldi (Mine Eyes Have Seen, 1998, etc.) keeps the focus on her characters, developing an entertainingly contentious rapport between Caroline and Miz Melindy while strewing the cast with rough men and widowed or abandoned women. Georgia Ann eventually becomes Rawdon’s doxy, then is summarily dropped from the story, and Johnny, willing to risk his life to save his slave, breaks off with the Catawba women he had been seeing for years in the name of appearances. In the end, Caroline has no trouble marrying into a white family, a seeming paradox—considering the pervasive consciousness of racial differences here—that Rinaldi doesn’t explain. Anna Myers’s Keeping Room (1997), a less disingenuous story set in the same place and time, offers a more direct view of the unusual brutality that characterized the war in the Carolinas. (bibliography) (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-15-200881-0

Page Count: 277

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

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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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CLOCKWORK ANGEL

From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 1

A century before the events of Clare’s Mortal Instruments trilogy, another everyday heroine gets entangled with demon-slaying Shadowhunters. Sixteen-year-old orphaned Tessa comes to London to join her brother but is imprisoned by the grotesque Dark Sisters. The sisters train the unwilling Tessa in previously unknown shapeshifter abilities, preparing her to be a pawn in some diabolical plan. A timely rescue brings Tessa to the Institute, where a group of misfit Shadowhunters struggles to fight evil. Though details differ, the general flavor of Tessa’s new family will be enjoyably familiar to the earlier trilogy’s fans; the most important is Tessa’s rescuer Will, the gorgeous, sharp-tongued teenager with a mysterious past and a smile like “Lucifer might have smiled, moments before he fell from Heaven.” The lush, melodramatic urban fantasy setting of the Shadowhunter world morphs seamlessly into a steampunk Victorian past, and this new series provides the setup for what will surely be a climactic battle against hordes of demonically powered brass clockworks. The tale drags in places, but this crowdpleaser’s tension-filled conclusion ratchets toward a new set of mysteries. (Steampunk. 13-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7586-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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