Young fans of Robert Newton Peck’s Soup titles will find much to enjoy in this funny, episodic, historical novel full of...

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OUT IN LEFT FIELD

How is a guy supposed to live down taking a baseball to the noggin in the critical moment of an inter-town baseball game in the waning days of summer 1947?

Before flubbing the game, 11-year-old Donald was getting used to living on their farm in Station Hill, Mont. A year ago, he’d thought his life was over when his father returned from the war and dragged the family away from town, electricity and indoor plumbing (When the Sergeant Came Marching Home, 2008). Donald and his younger brother Pat have settled in thanks to baseball, a dog of confused breed, hockey and a pretty teacher. After his major baseball embarrassment, Don thinks he can win back respect by becoming a deadly archer like Errol Flynn in Robin Hood. A near-total lack of funds and his mother’s reluctance stand in his way. Don is nothing if not resourceful (well, maybe stubborn, too). Archery impresses no one, and the school bullies won’t let up. Don then hopes learning to drive and helping with harvest will do the trick; no such luck. Can Don survive angry bulls, wearing mom’s skates until Christmas and revival-tent–inspired fears of Lucifer himself? As with Lemna’s first, adult readers will have trouble not hearing the voice of Jean Shepherd in their heads as Don narrates his trials and tribulations. It's downright refreshing to see a funny book that doesn't rely on quirky characters for its gusto.

Young fans of Robert Newton Peck’s Soup titles will find much to enjoy in this funny, episodic, historical novel full of realistic characters and light family drama. (Historical fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2313-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that...

BEN FRANKLIN'S IN MY BATHROOM!

Antics both instructive and embarrassing ensue after a mysterious package left on their doorstep brings a Founding Father into the lives of two modern children.

Summoned somehow by what looks for all the world like an old-time crystal radio set, Ben Franklin turns out to be an amiable sort. He is immediately taken in hand by 7-year-old Olive for a tour of modern wonders—early versions of which many, from electrical appliances in the kitchen to the Illinois town’s public library and fire department, he justly lays claim to inventing. Meanwhile big brother Nolan, 10, tags along, frantic to return him to his own era before either their divorced mom or snoopy classmate Tommy Tuttle sees him. Fleming, author of Ben Franklin’s Almanac (2003) (and also, not uncoincidentally considering the final scene of this outing, Our Eleanor, 2005), mixes history with humor as the great man dispenses aphorisms and reminiscences through diverse misadventures, all of which end well, before vanishing at last. Following a closing, sequel-cueing kicker (see above) she then separates facts from fancies in closing notes, with print and online leads to more of the former. To go with spot illustrations of the evidently all-white cast throughout the narrative, Fearing incorporates change-of-pace sets of sequential panels for Franklin’s biographical and scientific anecdotes. Final illustrations not seen.

It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that adds flavor without weight. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93406-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Not a stand-alone, unlike the opener, but still a worthy tale built around a core of clashing cultures and shared human...

THE RAIDERS

From the Inuk Quartet series , Vol. 2

The second episode in the Danish author's Inuk Quartet sends young Icelander Leiv and his Inuit friends on a new mission of vengeance after Viking raiders plunder his newfound Greenland home.

They have spent an idyllic spring and summer recovering from the trek in Shipwreck (2011); it's been interrupted only by a quick clash with a longship captained by the brutal Thorleifsson brothers. Now, Apuluk and Narua set out to rejoin their nomadic clan with Leiv in tow. That friendly visit turns into a punitive expedition after the Thorleifssons massacre most of a native settlement and loot Leiv's new home. The translated narrative reads smoothly, and high production values result in a handsome, open page design. Its visual appeal is enhanced by Cann's stylized but crisply drawn and richly colored images of arctic wildlife and fur-clad human residents. Though wordy descriptions of seasonal cycles and farm life slow down the first several chapters, the pacing picks up on the way to a violent climax, gory ends for the bad guys, and (pointing to developments in volumes to come) Leiv's decision to explore northward in search of a land route to fabled Vinland.

Not a stand-alone, unlike the opener, but still a worthy tale built around a core of clashing cultures and shared human values.   (Historical fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-84686-744-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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