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 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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ASK ME NO QUESTIONS

Illegal immigrant sisters learn a lot about themselves when their family faces deportation in this compelling contemporary drama. Immigrants from Bangladesh, Nadira, her older sister Aisha and their parents live in New York City with expired visas. Fourteen-year-old Nadira describes herself as “the slow-wit second-born” who follows Aisha, the family star who’s on track for class valedictorian and a top-rate college. Everything changes when post-9/11 government crack-downs on Muslim immigrants push the family to seek asylum in Canada where they are turned away at the border and their father is arrested by U.S. immigration. The sisters return to New York living in constant fear of detection and trying to pretend everything is normal. As months pass, Aisha falls apart while Nadira uses her head in “a right way” to save her father and her family. Nadira’s need for acceptance by her family neatly parallels the family’s desire for acceptance in their adopted country. A perceptive peek into the lives of foreigners on the fringe. (endnote) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-4169-0351-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Ginee Seo/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2005

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