STEALING FREEDOM

PLB 0-679-99307-X This compelling tale of a passenger on the Underground Railroad is entirely populated with historical figures; not since Gary Paulsen’s Nightjohn (1993) has the physical and emotional impact of slavery been made so palpable. Child of a free father and a slave mother, Ann Maria Weems grows up in the warmth of a loving family that is suddenly torn apart when her brothers are sold South and money raised by abolitionists arrives, but only enough to purchase freedom for her mother and sister. Knowing that her harsh master will never willingly give her freedom, Ann Marie resolves to steal it when the opportunity—a staged kidnapping, at the hands of an abolitionist, Jacob Bigelow—arises. Only occasionally manipulating actual events, Carbone (Starting School With an Enemy, p. 809, etc.) sends Ann Marie from Maryland to Washington, where she hides for months in a garret, then on to relatives in Canada, where she drops permanently from sight. A richly detailed society emerges, in which the powerless hold their own through quick wit and strength of character, and the powerful, scarred by the fact of slavery, know little real peace. Varying in tone from devastating simplicity (“Master Charles loaded . . . the last of the chickens, five barrels of tobacco, two sacks of wheat, and his son, and took them all to Baltimore to be sold”) to subtle irony underlying scenes in which abolitionists gather to fuss over Ann Marie as if she were some rare animal, this story pays tribute to the power of the very idea of freedom. (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-679-89307-5

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1998

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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CLOCKWORK ANGEL

From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 1

A century before the events of Clare’s Mortal Instruments trilogy, another everyday heroine gets entangled with demon-slaying Shadowhunters. Sixteen-year-old orphaned Tessa comes to London to join her brother but is imprisoned by the grotesque Dark Sisters. The sisters train the unwilling Tessa in previously unknown shapeshifter abilities, preparing her to be a pawn in some diabolical plan. A timely rescue brings Tessa to the Institute, where a group of misfit Shadowhunters struggles to fight evil. Though details differ, the general flavor of Tessa’s new family will be enjoyably familiar to the earlier trilogy’s fans; the most important is Tessa’s rescuer Will, the gorgeous, sharp-tongued teenager with a mysterious past and a smile like “Lucifer might have smiled, moments before he fell from Heaven.” The lush, melodramatic urban fantasy setting of the Shadowhunter world morphs seamlessly into a steampunk Victorian past, and this new series provides the setup for what will surely be a climactic battle against hordes of demonically powered brass clockworks. The tale drags in places, but this crowdpleaser’s tension-filled conclusion ratchets toward a new set of mysteries. (Steampunk. 13-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7586-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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