SHADOW-CATCHER

Jonathan’s the youngest in his Maine farm family, full of notions gathered from his reading of dime novels about adventure and about city life. But when his grandfather, the itinerant photographer, decides to take him along on his summer rounds, Jonathan’s not at all sure of his desires. Grandpa is a Civil War veteran, taciturn and sometimes cold, who holds his thoughts and his secrets deep within himself. So when Jonathan watches Grandpa as he photographs an astonishing scene of logging over whitewater rapids, the images Jonathan carries—of a floating roof and a frantic man in a checkered shirt—might not be the ones in the photograph. Arriving in a town called Masham, Jonathan is astonished to learn that his grandfather has a photography gallery and Annie, the spirited daughter of the woman who runs it, calls Grandpa “Uncle Rodney.” Grandpa keeps putting off developing the pictures, even though a local man seems very interested in seeing them. The mystery of what the pictures reveal is at the heart of a resolution, which means new lives for both Grandpa and Jonathan. The story is rich in detailing how photographs were made in the 1890s, and how folks would queue up at fairs and job sites to have their pictures taken. The joys of reading—from Dickens to dime novels—and the ungentle treatment of both Native Americans and people of mixed blood like Annie loop deftly into the plot. Intriguing and satisfying to the end. (Fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: May 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-17862-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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A LONG WALK TO WATER

BASED ON A TRUE STORY

Salva Dut is 11 years old when war raging in the Sudan separates him from his family. To avoid the conflict, he walks for years with other refugees, seeking sanctuary and scarce food and water. Park simply yet convincingly depicts the chaos of war and an unforgiving landscape as they expose Salva to cruelties both natural and man-made. The lessons Salva remembers from his family keep him from despair during harsh times in refugee camps and enable him, as a young man, to begin a new life in America. As Salva’s story unfolds, readers also learn about another Sudanese youth, Nya, and how these two stories connect contributes to the satisfying conclusion. This story is told as fiction, but it is based on real-life experiences of one of the “Lost Boys” of the Sudan. Salva and Nya’s compelling voices lift their narrative out of the “issue” of the Sudanese War, and only occasionally does the explanation of necessary context intrude in the storytelling. Salva’s heroism and the truth that water is a source of both conflict and reconciliation receive equal, crystal-clear emphasis in this heartfelt account. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-25127-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2010

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The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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