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Well-researched, exciting and thoughtful about the real losses of war.

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In 1697, two 12-year-old boys—one French, one English—ship out to Hudson Bay in this YA novel based on historical events.

Centering on the struggle to control York Factory on Hudson Bay, this novel offers adventure on both sea and land. In the late 1600s, the rivalry between France and England over Canada and the lucrative fur trade grew heated. David Goodchild is a London boy who speaks French due to Huguenot parents (the original family name was Bonenfant); Guillaume Bisaillon has grown up in Périgny, a shipbuilding region in France. They become cabin boys, David aboard the Royal Hudson’s Bay, an armed merchant vessel, and Guillaume on Le Pélican, a 54-cannon French warship. Both vessels head for Hudson Bay to protect their country’s fur trade and strategic interests. Along the way, both boys learn about life on a ship, with its hazards, hardships and array of salty characters. They learn how to tie knots, reef a sail and work as powder monkeys. They experience freezing cold, mortal danger, a cannon battle at sea and a few games of chess. Perhaps most of all, both David and Guillaume come to consider how destruction of life, natural resources and money happens in war—a welcome corrective to the kind of sea story that focuses only on the excitement of battle. “We both seemed to realize that in chess, war had been reduced to a game where no one got hurt,” concludes Guillaume. The writing is somewhat rough, however; usage and punctuation could use a polish, and word choices, especially in dialogue, waver between old-fashioned and modern. Milligan (Australian hospital ship Centaur, 1993) and Smith (Educating for a Peaceful Future, 1998) also include black-and-white illustrations, historical notes, and translations of French and Mohawk, which will appeal to inquisitive young readers.

Well-researched, exciting and thoughtful about the real losses of war.

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-1460210413

Page Count: 192

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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In this riveting futuristic novel, Spaz, a teenage boy with epilepsy, makes a dangerous journey in the company of an old man and a young boy. The old man, Ryter, one of the few people remaining who can read and write, has dedicated his life to recording stories. Ryter feels a kinship with Spaz, who unlike his contemporaries has a strong memory; because of his epilepsy, Spaz cannot use the mind probes that deliver entertainment straight to the brain and rot it in the process. Nearly everyone around him uses probes to escape their life of ruin and poverty, the result of an earthquake that devastated the world decades earlier. Only the “proovs,” genetically improved people, have grass, trees, and blue skies in their aptly named Eden, inaccessible to the “normals” in the Urb. When Spaz sets out to reach his dying younger sister, he and his companions must cross three treacherous zones ruled by powerful bosses. Moving from one peril to the next, they survive only with help from a proov woman. Enriched by Ryter’s allusions to nearly lost literature and full of intriguing, invented slang, the skillful writing paints two pictures of what the world could look like in the future—the burned-out Urb and the pristine Eden—then shows the limits and strengths of each. Philbrick, author of Freak the Mighty (1993) has again created a compelling set of characters that engage the reader with their courage and kindness in a painful world that offers hope, if no happy endings. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-08758-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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Hillenbrand takes license with the familiar song (the traditional words and music are reproduced at the end) to tell an enchanting story about baby animals picked up by the train and delivered to the children’s zoo. The full-color drawings are transportingly jolly, while the catchy refrain—“See the engine driver pull his little lever”—is certain to delight readers. Once the baby elephant, flamingo, panda, tiger, seal, and kangaroo are taken to the zoo by the train, the children—representing various ethnic backgrounds, and showing one small girl in a wheelchair—arrive. This is a happy book, filled with childhood exuberance. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-201804-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1999

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