ALIEN SECRETS

The author of the extraordinary The Silver Kiss (1990: a girl and a vampire in love) creates sure-fire entertainment for younger readers by melding at least four classic scenarios. Seventh-grader Robin Goodfellow (``Puck''), expelled in disgrace, heroically redeems herself en route to her parents...who are elsewhere in the universe, so events take place on a spaceship on which ``Hush''—a lovable, elongated gray ``Shoowa''—is going home after years of enslavement by Grakks, one of whom almost gains control of the ship...which is haunted by a host of Shoowa ghosts (also the foul work of the Grakks) that Puck and Hush hope to free so they can find peace on their own planet...but, meanwhile, the passengers and crew include (along with the disguised Grakk, who's after a powerful totem that Hush wants to return to his people) smugglers and plainclothes police, in the best whodunit tradition. Klause juggles all this with admirable aplomb while devising a poetically literal manner of speech for Hush, deftly creating memorable characters (whose playfully referential names can be red herrings), writing wonderfully suspenseful scenes (page one is a sure hook), and slipping in some thoughtful, quite beautifully written passages. Klause obviously has more resources than she's using here. What next? Meanwhile, this is great fun. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-385-30928-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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THE TEQUILA WORM

Sofia, growing up in an urban Latino neighborhood in McAllen, Texas, has a chance to attend an expensive boarding school in Austin on scholarship. Like her father, Sofia lives the life of the mind, rich with story and possibility. How can she convince her mother to let her take this opportunity? By learning to dance and showing her that she can leave home and still learn to become a good comadre. Canales, the author of the story collection Orange Candy Slices and Other Secret Tales (2001), is a graduate of Harvard Law School, suggesting that Sofia’s story at least closely parallels her own. She is an accomplished storyteller, though not yet, perhaps, a successful novelist. The episodic narrative has disconcerting leaps in time at the beginning, and a sense of completion, or a moral displayed, at several points throughout—all lacking the tension to carry the reader forward. This said, the characters and setting are so real to life that readers who connect with Sofia at the start will find many riches here, from a perspective that is still hard to find in youth literature. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2005

ISBN: 0-385-74674-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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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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