THE MIRROR OF FIRE AND DREAMING

Though he’s been greatly honored by being made keeper of the magical conch (The Conch Bearer, 2003), Anand feels worthless in his apprenticeship in the Silver Valley. The other apprentices—even his closest friend Nisha—all understand magic that eludes him. Worse, when Anand divines a mysterious evil lurking in a remote Indian village, he is not selected to accompany his beloved mentor Abhaydatta on a rescue mission. Anand and Nisha sneak out of the Silver Valley to help, and find Abhaydatta missing and a wicked magician sucking the souls from helpless villagers. Only by going 400 years into the past, to a lavishly described Mughal palace, can Anand rescue his friends and defeat the magician. Disguised as a punkah boy in the home of a powerful Muslim nawab, Anand has few allies: Nisha’s lost her memory and the conch its strength. When Anand goes through enough personal growth, the conch gains power and can save the day. A stock plot given life by the appealing, unusual and lovingly detailed setting. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-59643-067-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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Explanatory note; reading list.

DRAGON'S GATE

From the Golden Mountain Chronicles series

Yep illuminates the Chinese immigrant experience here and abroad in a follow-up to The Serpent's Children (1984) and Mountain Light (1985).

After accidentally killing one of the hated Manchu soldiers, Otter (14) flees Kwangtung for the "Golden Mountain"; he finds his adoptive father Squeaky and Uncle Foxfire in the Sierra Nevada, where thousands of "Guests" are laboriously carving a path for the railroad. Brutal cold, dangerous work, and a harsh overseer take their toll as Squeaky is blinded in a tunnel accident, Foxfire is lost in a storm, and other workers are frozen or half-starved. By the end, toughened in body and spirit, Otter resolves never to forget them or their sacrifices. Foxfire and Otter consider themselves only temporary residents here, preparing for the more important work of modernizing their own country while ridding it of Manchu, Europeans, and, especially, the scourge of opium. America is a dreamlike place; English dialogue is printed in italics as a tongue foreign to most of the characters; and though Otter befriends the overseer's troubled son, such social contact is discouraged on both sides. In a story enlivened with humor and heroism, Yep pays tribute to the immigrants who played such a vital role in our country's history.

Explanatory note; reading list. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-022971-3

Page Count: 276

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1993

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GATHERING BLUE

From the Giver Quartet series , Vol. 2

Lowry returns to the metaphorical future world of her Newbery-winning The Giver (1993) to explore the notion of foul reality disguised as fair. Born with a twisted leg, Kira faces a bleak future after her mother dies suddenly, leaving her without protection. Despite her gift for weaving and embroidery, the village women, led by cruel, scarred Vandara, will certainly drive the lame child into the forest, where the “beasts” killed her father, or so she’s been told. Instead, the Council of Guardians intervenes. In Kira’s village, the ambient sounds of voices raised in anger and children being slapped away as nuisances quiets once a year when the Singer, with his intricately carved staff and elaborately embroidered robe, recites the tale of humanity’s multiple rises and falls. The Guardians ask Kira to repair worn historical scenes on the Singer’s robe and promise her the panels that have been left undecorated. Comfortably housed with two other young orphans—Thomas, a brilliant wood-carver working on the Singer’s staff, and tiny Jo, who sings with an angel’s voice—Kira gradually realizes that their apparent freedom is illusory, that their creative gifts are being harnessed to the Guardians’ agenda. And she begins to wonder about the deaths of her parents and those of her companions—especially after the seemingly hale old woman who is teaching her to dye expires the day after telling her there really are no beasts in the woods. The true nature of her society becomes horribly clear when the Singer appears for his annual performance with chained, bloody ankles, followed by Kira’s long-lost father, who, it turns out, was blinded and left for dead by a Guardian. Next to the vividly rendered supporting cast, the gentle, kindhearted Kira seems rather colorless, though by electing at the end to pit her artistic gift against the status quo instead of fleeing, she does display some inner stuff. Readers will find plenty of material for thought and discussion here, plus a touch of magic and a tantalizing hint (stay sharp, or you’ll miss it) about the previous book’s famously ambiguous ending. A top writer, in top form. (author’s note) (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-618-05581-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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