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THE FIRE-EATERS by David Almond Kirkus Star


by David Almond

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: May 11th, 2004
ISBN: 0-385-73170-1
Publisher: Delacorte

It’s 1962, a year observed through the eyes of Bobby, a 12-year-old who lives in a shabby seaside village. Like the choicest of Almond, this is moody and layered. Woven throughout are dark, dramatic threads that begin to coalesce: father’s mysterious illness, retribution against a sadistic private-school teacher, a traveling fire-eater (the shell of a WWII veteran) who shelters nearby, the Cuban missile crisis and the encroaching threat of nuclear war. Juxtaposed against somber images of historical, physical, and institutional pain and fear are the warmth, dependability, and light of home, family, loyal friendships, the play of a lighthouse light as it moves across the window, and a belief in miracles. There is a heart-stirring sense that this is a time and space between—between war and nuclear holocaust, between childhood and adolescence, between traditional and modern ways, between life and death. And finally, what a difference it makes when a whole community holds its collective breath, momentarily expecting hell—a hell that never comes. Breathtakingly and memorably up to Almond’s best. (Fiction. 10-14)