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POISON IN THE COLONY

JAMES TOWN 1622

Another settler’s-eye view of Colonial history.

A young white girl observes the beginnings of English colonization of the American continent, including encounters with Native Americans and enslavement of the newly arrived Africans.

Young Ginny Laydon, the first child born in the white settler colony of Jamestown, Virginia, carries “the knowing,” or second sight. Initially, the only person who knows of Ginny’s secret is her family’s friend Samuel Collier, a young white man who acts as Native American cultural interpreter throughout the book (and who was the protagonist of Blood on the River, 2006). Ginny is a descendant of a long line of women who have suffered persecution as witches. When Ginny’s secret is suspected, she is slated to be tried for witchcraft; a later threat of Indian attack on the colony defuses the tension generated by Ginny’s plight. Depictions of Native Americans place these characters as the backdrop, viewed always through Ginny’s eyes, however sympathetic, as other. In one freighted scene, an inscrutable Powhatan man touches Ginny’s forehead, a gesture she feels is connected with her knowing; in another she has a vision of crowded ships, including one full of Africans, and is frightened by the “sheer mass of [people],” drawing no distinction between white settlers and Africans in bondage. Carbone projects her fictional narrative on historical characters (parsed in an author’s note), presenting the white settlers as mostly amicable and welcoming of cultural mixing, and the fundamental violation that is colonialism is not really questioned.

Another settler’s-eye view of Colonial history. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-425-29183-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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