EYE OF THE WOLF

A slight French import goes heavy on symbolism but light on story. A one-eyed wolf paces his cage day after day, ignoring everything outside of it, until he finds himself in a stare-off with a boy. In the way of magical realism, the two characters trade life stories, each by looking the other in the eye. Africa, the boy, sees Blue Wolf as he grows up in Alaska, living fairly idyllically with his brothers and sister until his capture and subsequent imprisonment in a series of zoos. Then Blue Wolf stares Africa in the eye, seeing the orphan grow up, first in Yellow Africa, then Gray Africa, then Green Africa, and finally the Other World, where they meet. Africa himself is a fey child, a storyteller who can make friends out of sworn enemies and whose mystical rapport with animals makes him a healer of sorts. It is his gaze that heals the wolf in the end, bringing together Alaska and all the Africas at once. While each character’s individual story is developed fairly well and the tone effectively infuses the story with a touch of the fantastic, ultimately there seems to be little substance to the whole, beyond a general sense of environmental we-are-all-one-ness. This is mystery writer Pennac’s (Passion Fruit, 2001, etc.) first book for children to be published in the US; while he shows a sure sense of mood and tone, the lack of actual narrative is likely to leave audiences wondering: what’s the point? (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7636-1896-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

GIRL'S BEST FRIEND

From the Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries series

In this series debut, Maggie Sinclair tracks down a dognapper and solves a mystery about the noises in the walls of her Brooklyn brownstone apartment building. The 12-year-old heroine, who shares a middle name—Brooklyn—with her twin brother, Finn, is juggling two dogwalking jobs she’s keeping secret from her parents, and somehow she attracts the ire of the dogs’ former walker. Maggie tells her story in the first person—she’s self-possessed and likable, even when her clueless brother invites her ex–best friend, now something of an enemy, to their shared 12th birthday party. Maggie’s attention to details helps her to figure out why dogs seem to be disappearing and why there seem to be mice in the walls of her building, though astute readers will pick up on the solution to at least one mystery before Maggie solves it. There’s a brief nod to Nancy Drew, but the real tensions in this contemporary preteen story are more about friendship and boy crushes than skullduggery. Still, the setting is appealing, and Maggie is a smart and competent heroine whose personal life is just as interesting as—if not more than—her detective work. (Mystery. 10-13)

   

 

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 967-1-59990-525-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE TIGER RISING

Themes of freedom and responsibility twine between the lines of this short but heavy novel from the author of Because of Winn-Dixie (2000). Three months after his mother's death, Rob and his father are living in a small-town Florida motel, each nursing sharp, private pain. On the same day Rob has two astonishing encounters: first, he stumbles upon a caged tiger in the woods behind the motel; then he meets Sistine, a new classmate responding to her parents' breakup with ready fists and a big chip on her shoulder. About to burst with his secret, Rob confides in Sistine, who instantly declares that the tiger must be freed. As Rob quickly develops a yen for Sistine's company that gives her plenty of emotional leverage, and the keys to the cage almost literally drop into his hands, credible plotting plainly takes a back seat to character delineation here. And both struggle for visibility beneath a wagonload of symbol and metaphor: the real tiger (and the inevitable recitation of Blake's poem); the cage; Rob's dream of Sistine riding away on the beast's back; a mysterious skin condition on Rob's legs that develops after his mother's death; a series of wooden figurines that he whittles; a larger-than-life African-American housekeeper at the motel who dispenses wisdom with nearly every utterance; and the climax itself, which is signaled from the start. It's all so freighted with layers of significance that, like Lois Lowry's Gathering Blue (2000), Anne Mazer's Oxboy (1995), or, further back, Julia Cunningham's Dorp Dead (1965), it becomes more an exercise in analysis than a living, breathing story. Still, the tiger, "burning bright" with magnificent, feral presence, does make an arresting central image. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7636-0911-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

more