CAPTAIN KATE

Setting her story in the third year of the Civil War, Reeder (Foster’s War, p. 61, etc.) writes of a young girl who takes it upon herself to pilot the family’s canal boat 184 miles from Cumberland, Maryland to Georgetown. Kate, 12, learning that her newly remarried, pregnant mother plans to rent out the family’s canal boat, decides to make the journey herself, grudgingly enlisting the help of her new stepbrother, Seth. As the two face the dangers of navigating the canal’s locks, both are forced to accept and deal with unpleasant insights about themselves as well as one another. Reeder’s detailed and realistic narrative of canal life provides a fascinating portrait of a period unique in US history. The real strength of the novel, however, is in the depiction of the complex, tangled relationship that forms between Kate and Seth, and the emotional growth they experience as they struggle to reconcile their feelings about sharing a new family. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-380-97628-5

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1998

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IQBAL

This profoundly moving story is all the more impressive because of its basis in fact. Although the story is fictionalized, its most harrowing aspects are true: “Today, more than two hundred million children between the ages of five and seventeen are ‘economically active’ in the world.” Iqbal Masih, a real boy, was murdered at age 13. His killers have never been found, but it’s believed that a cartel of ruthless people overseeing the carpet industry, the “Carpet Mafia,” killed him. The carpet business in Pakistan is the backdrop for the story of a young Pakistani girl in indentured servitude to a factory owner, who also “owned” the bonds of 14 children, indentured by their own families for sorely needed money. Fatima’s first-person narrative grips from the beginning and inspires with every increment of pride and resistance the defiant Iqbal instills in his fellow workers. Although he was murdered for his efforts, Iqbal’s life was not in vain; the accounts here of children who were liberated through his and activist adults’ efforts will move readers for years to come. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-85445-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2003

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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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