I RODE A HORSE OF MILK WHITE JADE

“Bad luck,” plagues 12-year-old Oyuna and her family. Oyuna seems fated to live with the curse of her lame foot, crushed by a black mare, for the rest of her life. But the elderly Oyuna relates the plodding story to her granddaughter of how she changed her destiny in in 14th-century Mongolia. During the era of Kublai Khan, Oyuna’s journey to self-confidence begins when she finds that she is able to communicate with a special white mare. When soldiers come to take the mare, Oyuna disguises herself as a boy to join Khan’s army so she can be with the horse. Her adventures border on the absurd, e.g., she first stands up to Khan and then bonds with him. While there are some brave moments and dramatic scenes, readers will lose patience with the limping narrative and obvious moral. (glossary) (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-531-30024-2

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

DEAD END IN NORVELT

Characteristically provocative gothic comedy, with sublime undertones. (Autobiographical fiction. 11-13)

An exhilarating summer marked by death, gore and fire sparks deep thoughts in a small-town lad not uncoincidentally named “Jack Gantos.”

The gore is all Jack’s, which to his continuing embarrassment “would spray out of my nose holes like dragon flames” whenever anything exciting or upsetting happens. And that would be on every other page, seemingly, as even though Jack’s feuding parents unite to ground him for the summer after several mishaps, he does get out. He mixes with the undertaker’s daughter, a band of Hell’s Angels out to exact fiery revenge for a member flattened in town by a truck and, especially, with arthritic neighbor Miss Volker, for whom he furnishes the “hired hands” that transcribe what becomes a series of impassioned obituaries for the local paper as elderly town residents suddenly begin passing on in rapid succession. Eventually the unusual body count draws the—justified, as it turns out—attention of the police. Ultimately, the obits and the many Landmark Books that Jack reads (this is 1962) in his hours of confinement all combine in his head to broaden his perspective about both history in general and the slow decline his own town is experiencing.

Characteristically provocative gothic comedy, with sublime undertones. (Autobiographical fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-37993-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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