Striking illustrations and a compelling narrative bring an important Indian tale of good and evil to young readers.

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RAMAYANA

AN ILLUSTRATED RETELLING

A classical Indian literature scholar offers a brief and engaging version of the ancient and beloved epic Hindu poem Ramayana.

Based on oral tradition, the book narrates with poetic language the journey of the divine Rama as he rescues his beloved wife, Sita, after she was abducted by the evil, 10-headed demon king Ravana. In this retelling, the spotlight is fixed firmly on Rama; his loyal brother Lakshmana and courageous disciple Hanuman come a distant second. However, the author does an impressive job of portraying Lord Rama, a revered Hindu god, as a well-rounded figure with all the doubts, faults, and fallibility of a mortal, as when he tests Sita’s loyalty and chastity on three different occasions. Golden-skinned Sita is mentioned the least of the protagonists, and we get to know very little of her thoughts and feelings, depriving the reader of an important perspective. Vibrant, detailed, and mystical illustrations showing ferocious rakshasas (demons) and graceful heroes enhance the text. Pen-and-ink spot art serves to mark scene changes. The fluid and evocative prose and nonstop action are sure to draw in those who already know and love this classic as well as providing an accessible introduction to readers unfamiliar with the story.

Striking illustrations and a compelling narrative bring an important Indian tale of good and evil to young readers. (author’s note) (Classic. 10-15)

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63206-177-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Restless Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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GUTS

THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND HATCHET AND THE BRIAN BOOKS

Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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FREE-FIRE ZONE

From the Vietnam series , Vol. 3

The third installment of Lynch’s Vietnam War series follows Rudi, one of four friends who enlisted at the same time and are now in separate branches of the military.

Friends since fourth grade in Boston, Rudi, Ivan, Morris and Beck pledged to not go to Vietnam voluntarily, but if one received a draft notice, they would all sign up, a friendship bond of a small band of brothers. Morris’ narrative came first, followed by Ivan’s (I Pledge Allegiance, 2011; Sharpshooter, 2012). Here, Rudi relates his experiences in the Marine Corps, where Rudi, always the slow learner thought not to be good at anything, finds something at which he excels: taking orders. Good soldier becomes his identity, until the war takes its toll. Each experience—his first confirmed kill, a serious leg injury, the murder of his lieutenant and his harrowing experience in a tunnel—changes Rudi, until, eventually, he feels the old Rudi is dead, “left him right down in that hole.” The best of the excellent series so far, this volume is more graphic than the first two but still appropriate for the intended audience. Solid character development and deft plotting make this a work that can stand by itself, but with the forthcoming final installment, the completed series will feel monumental indeed. A fine portrayal of friends and war. (Historical fiction. 10-14)    

 

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-27025-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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