THE NEDDIAD

HOW NEDDIE TOOK THE TRAIN, WENT TO HOLLYWOOD, AND SAVED CIVILIZATION

Pinkwater bills this tale of a lad who saves the post-WWII world from a sudden reversion to the Pleistocene Epoch as his best work yet. He’s right—for about the first third. When his well-heeled family boards the Super Chief for an impulsive move from Chicago to Hollywood, Neddie experiences an America rich in marvels, from elegant Pullman Porters and fellow passengers with colorful (if, Ned suspects, fictive) pasts to stunning natural wonders. A stranding in Flagstaff only adds to the adventure, as he falls in with the son of a renowned movie star and gets a car ride the rest of the way to California. He also meets a shaman named Melvin who hands him a small carved turtle that must be kept safe. Ned’s compelling sense of wonder and delight at each new sight or encounter positively propels his account of the cross-country journey along. But once he arrives in L.A., it begins to sputter, because aside from the odd and often surreal diversion, he and some new friends spend the next 200 pages essentially waiting around to find out just why that turtle is so important. Pinkwater is putting up a chapter a week on his website, and should be about halfway along to the mystical climax by the book’s publication date. Even confirmed fans might want to stick with the online version, tune out for a month or so and then tune back in to see everyone receive just deserts. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-59444-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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GUTS

THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND HATCHET AND THE BRIAN BOOKS

Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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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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