RAZIA'S RAY OF HOPE

ONE GIRL'S DREAM OF AN EDUCATION

From the CitizenKid series

Purposeful in a positive way, this imaginatively illustrated book should open readers’ eyes to issues facing children who...

The United States is still involved in Afghanistan, and interest in girls’ education in that war-torn country is a strong topic of concern.

Young Razia wants to attend the new girls’ school that is being built in her village, but her grandfather is her only ally. Her older brothers, uneducated themselves, don’t want her to attend. Little do they know that she has already taught herself to read and that she is independent enough to ask the head of the school to convince her family. It is difficult to understand why Aziz, her eldest brother, wields such power in the family, but teacher Razia Jan, modeled after a real Afghani-American who has returned to her country to spread the hope of education, knows she has to persuade him. (Confusingly, the teacher shares the protagonist’s name.) However, it is young Razia herself who proves to Aziz that education can be useful when she uses her secret literacy to give him the correct dose of medicine when he falls ill. Using collage techniques that employ photography, traditional fabrics and realistic pencil sketches, Verelst creates a striking complement to this realistic story of contemporary life. The explanatory material at the end and the classroom activities are useful for educational settings.

Purposeful in a positive way, this imaginatively illustrated book should open readers’ eyes to issues facing children who live in very different circumstances. (Picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55453-816-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

A TEMPLAR'S GIFTS

From the Book of Tormod series , Vol. 2

This sequel to A Templar's Apprentice (2010) takes Tormod in circular journeys around Scotland without particularly advancing the plot. The truth o’ yon Tormod’s powers canno’ be denied—or understood very well, given the brogue-laden prose, which lacks the accuracy for true flavor but is still thick enough to interfere with readability. Tormod is on the run with his new friend, the redheaded and equally magically gifted Aine. They skip from adventure to adventure, uncontrolled psychic abilities troubling them while they seek a Knight Templar with the gift of healing. Tormod's health suffers as his visions become worse. His travels, from discovering a village whose residents have been massacred by soldiers to a brief interaction with Robert the Bruce, are soon only interruptions; primarily his days are occupied by delirium, visions and out-of-control magical temper tantrums. At least his fever dreams are revealing the King of France's wicked plot against the Templars, but it won't do him much good as he wanders through the Highlands. A discombobulated traveling tale, best summed up in Tormod's own stream of consciousness: "Torquil. The Abbot. The Templar. Aine. Bertrand. The bairn. Cornelius. Visions. Dreams. Nightmares." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-05675-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

THE SIREN'S CRY

After fighting the evil Blouts in The Otherworldlies (2008), Fern must now face a deadlier menace: rooming with the school's...

Twelve-year-old Fern is an Otherworldly, a vampire—though why a non–blood-drinking, non-immortal, naturally born, teleporting telekinetic is called a “vampire” is left as an exercise to the reader.

After fighting the evil Blouts in The Otherworldlies (2008), Fern must now face a deadlier menace: rooming with the school's mean girls on a class trip to Washington, D.C. Fern's only distraction from the bullies tormenting her is her vision of a boy in a cage. The boy, she discovers, is Miles Zapo, a kidnapped Otherworldly just Fern's age. Fern suspects Miles, like her, is one of the Unusuals, destined to do something or other. (It's not clear what’s so Unusual, and it doesn't really matter; as long as there's a prophecy it's important, right?) The kidnapper is the dastardly Silver Tooth, also known as Haryle (“Hair-uh-Lee”) Laffar, brother of evil Vlad from Fern's previous adventure, and possessed of even more mysterious and evil secrets. The Smithsonian, the Hope diamond, moon rocks and mohawked, scaled, monstrous birds all play a part in Haryle's villainous plans for Miles and Fern. A firmly middle-school adventure (despite packaging attempting to capitalize on the paranormal craze among older teens) composed of cartoon villains, unconvincing heroes and a muddled, nonsensical plot.

Pub Date: June 28, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-199443-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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