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GODDESS OF YESTERDAY

Anaxandra’s adventures begin as a small child, when she is taken hostage from her father, the king of a tiny unnamed island in the Aegean Sea. She becomes the companion of the crippled princess Callisto of Siphnos. When that island is sacked, Anaxandra alone is left alive and she pretends to be Callisto in the eyes of Menelaus, who takes her back to Sparta. It is there that the girl, now 12, accomplished with a slingshot, and resourceful in many ways, meets Menelaus’s queen, Helen. In Cooney’s telling, Helen is an exquisite monster: so beautiful that people die for her; but cold, careless, and utterly self-involved. When the besotted Trojan prince Paris takes Helen off to Troy, Anaxandra assumes another identity, to protect her own life and that of Helen’s youngest child. The gods and goddesses are very real to Anaxandra, whose prayers and beseeching are answered only occasionally. The full horrors of war and the brutality of even the noblest of lives in ancient Greece (although the land now known as Greece was many independent principalities then) are related in Anaxandra’s perceptive voice, in a heightened language that seems natural for her. Characters from the Iliad, the Odyssey, and much of Greek tragedy make appearances in Anaxandra’s tale, one that is as vivid as her red-gold hair. Teen readers will be mesmerized. (afterword) (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: June 11, 2002

ISBN: 0-385-72945-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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A CRANE AMONG WOLVES

A page-turner.

An immersive tale of unlikely allies coming together for a common enemy.

In Joseon dynasty Korea in 1506, 17-year-old Iseul has one goal: to find her older sister, Suyeon, and bring her home. Although they didn’t have the best relationship after the trauma of their parents’ execution by royal soldiers, Iseul bravely travels through forbidden territory. Her enemy is King Yeonsan, a vile man who abducts women, but after hearing of a serial killer—and the king’s obsession with finding him—Iseul decides that capturing the murderer could be the way to get her sister back. She’s not alone in her hatred for the king; his half brother, Prince Daehyun, is secretly plotting treason to stop Yeonsan’s reign of terror. Calling Daehyun his favorite brother, the king demands he carry out increasingly extreme acts of cruelty in order to prove his loyalty, but the prince is determined to not become a monster himself. After a fateful encounter with Daehyun, Iseul is left with even more disgust for the crown, but she doesn’t yet know the full story behind Daehyun’s intentions. With such a powerful shared enemy, the pair might find that becoming allies is the smartest way to achieve their objectives. Award-winner Hur’s latest historical intrigue is well researched and doesn’t shy away from depicting elements of this real king’s brutal history, and the resulting tale is immersive, intense, and engaging.

A page-turner. (author’s note with content warning, historical note) (Historical thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9781250858092

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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THE BOOK THIEF

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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