A GOLDEN WEB

Alessandra Giliani, a brilliant young woman who studied anatomy in 14th-century Bologna with Mondino, the university’s renowned doctor, may or may not have actually existed. Quick has made a page-turner of a story out of this scrap of history or legend, festooning it with many well-worn elements of romantic fiction. Alessandra has an unkind stepmother, she sneaks into her brother’s lessons and he teaches her (secretly) how to ride and how to use a knife. She escapes from the convent to which she is sent and appears in male dress to attend lectures in anatomy at Bologna’s university. A credibility-stretching number of people learn her secret, including the man to whom her family has betrothed her, also a student, and they marry while she continues both disguise and studies. The novel’s end is as clichéd as what has gone before—beyond introducing Giliani to modern audiences, there is little new here. While historical facts and details are incorporated, some of the naming is discordant (Nicky is not a nickname in Italy, nor is Maxie), and the entire tone is jarringly contemporary. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-144887-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

THE BOOK THIEF

When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as “an attempt—a flying jump of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.” When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor’s wife’s library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel’s experiences move Death to say, “I am haunted by humans.” How could the human race be “so ugly and so glorious” at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83100-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more