While a few passages lean precariously toward the polemical and the resolutions are pretty quick and tidy, readers will be...

DREAMSLEEVES

This inspirational story set in the 1960s will resonate with a wide range of readers.

Aislinn O’Neill is expecting big things in the summer before her eighth-grade year. She dreams that her father will quit drinking, that her family will finally own their own home and that a boy named Mike Mancinello will like her. Tall orders all. And it’s not like she gets to devote all of her time to seeing them come true. Aislinn, or A for short, is in charge of her four younger siblings—B, C, D and E—while her parents are at work. Even when her parents are home, she is expected to help with household duties and is forbidden from socializing with her peers by her overprotective, controlling, alcoholic father. Aislinn never loses hope, however, and finally she hits upon an idea that just might work. Everyone needs help to make dreams come true, she reasons, and how can others help if people’s dreams are tucked too deeply inside their hearts to ever be seen by anyone else? Aislinn grabs a label, prints a wish on it, sticks it right on her sleeve and starts a mini-revolution.

While a few passages lean precariously toward the polemical and the resolutions are pretty quick and tidy, readers will be too squarely in A’s court to care. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-31020-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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BAMBOO PEOPLE

Well-educated American boys from privileged families have abundant options for college and career. For Chiko, their Burmese counterpart, there are no good choices. There is never enough to eat, and his family lives in constant fear of the military regime that has imprisoned Chiko’s physician father. Soon Chiko is commandeered by the army, trained to hunt down members of the Karenni ethnic minority. Tai, another “recruit,” uses his streetwise survival skills to help them both survive. Meanwhile, Tu Reh, a Karenni youth whose village was torched by the Burmese Army, has been chosen for his first military mission in his people’s resistance movement. How the boys meet and what comes of it is the crux of this multi-voiced novel. While Perkins doesn’t sugarcoat her subject—coming of age in a brutal, fascistic society—this is a gentle story with a lot of heart, suitable for younger readers than the subject matter might suggest. It answers the question, “What is it like to be a child soldier?” clearly, but with hope. (author’s note, historical note) (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58089-328-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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Stands out neither as a folk-tale retelling, a coming-of-age story, nor a Holocaust novel.

MAPPING THE BONES

A Holocaust tale with a thin “Hansel and Gretel” veneer from the author of The Devil’s Arithmetic (1988).

Chaim and Gittel, 14-year-old twins, live with their parents in the Lodz ghetto, forced from their comfortable country home by the Nazis. The siblings are close, sharing a sign-based twin language; Chaim stutters and communicates primarily with his sister. Though slowly starving, they make the best of things with their beloved parents, although it’s more difficult once they must share their tiny flat with an unpleasant interfaith couple and their Mischling (half-Jewish) children. When the family hears of their impending “wedding invitation”—the ghetto idiom for a forthcoming order for transport—they plan a dangerous escape. Their journey is difficult, and one by one, the adults vanish. Ultimately the children end up in a fictional child labor camp, making ammunition for the German war effort. Their story effectively evokes the dehumanizing nature of unremitting silence. Nevertheless, the dense, distancing narrative (told in a third-person contemporaneous narration focused through Chaim with interspersed snippets from Gittel’s several-decades-later perspective) has several consistency problems, mostly regarding the relative religiosity of this nominally secular family. One theme seems to be frustration with those who didn’t fight back against overwhelming odds, which makes for a confusing judgment on the suffering child protagonists.

Stands out neither as a folk-tale retelling, a coming-of-age story, nor a Holocaust novel. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-25778-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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