THIS MEANS WAR!

It’s the fall of 1962. With Soviet missiles in Cuba, a war with Russia seems imminent. Amid community-wide fears of annihilation, Juliet Klostermeyer is experiencing her own personal problem. Her longtime best friend Lowell has decided it is uncool to be friends with a girl. Friendless for the first time, Julia meets Patsy, a spunky Air Force brat new to town. Patsy’s father is a mechanic on the nearby base. When Patsy learns of Lowell’s transgression and his new friends’ attitude that girls are inferior, she suggests a series of tests to prove the boys wrong. As the standoff between Kennedy and Khrushchev intensifies, so does the war between the sexes. When their final test provokes a near-tragedy, both sides come to realize what is really important. The characters are solid and believable, while the dialogue is fresh, poignant and funny. The children’s fear about the end of the world is realistically portrayed, yet Wittlinger never lets it overshadow the good-humored story of friendship. Will appeal to fans of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s The Boys Start the War (1993) and The Girls Get Even (1994). (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 20, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7101-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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THE BIG GAME OF EVERYTHING

Twelve-year-old Onion Jock’s grandfather made a fortune inventing a golf-course–cleaning contraption and now runs his own 13-hole course, his barber father rebels against the system by discouraging haircuts and his brother is a finance-obsessed pugilist. When well-monied individuals from Grampus’s past arrive, Jock realizes that his odd family relationships are more twisted than he thought. With little more than a brogue pronunciation as a clue, readers are left to guess at Jock’s geographical location, which creates a rarely bridged emotional gap. Jock’s narrative disposition is reminiscent of Christopher from Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (2003), but Jock’s own behavioral discrepancies have no apparent underlying causes. Moments of genuine humor shine, but most of the tale’s message—of the burden of possessions—seems better suited for a younger audience than the one it apparently aims for. Andi Watson’s Clubbing (2007) blends oddball humor and golf much more successfully. This uneven mixture of relationships and sports is a bogey for the usually reliable Lynch. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-06-074034-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008

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Fluid prose elucidates a life much stranger than fiction.

PROMISE THE NIGHT

MacColl's second novel brings to life the childhood of future aviator and writer Beryl Markham (Prisoners in the Palace, 2010).

Born Beryl Clutterbuck, she moved with her family to the highlands of Kenya as a toddler. Not long after, her mother and brother returned to England, abandoning her with her rough though loving father. MacColl's account begins when a leopard steals into Beryl's hut and attacks her dog—the child leaping from her bed to give chase. Though she loses the leopard in the night, the next morning, she and her new friend, a Nandi boy, Kibii, find the dog still alive and save it. Later she insists on being part of the hunt for the leopard. Young Beryl wants nothing more than to be a warrior, a murani, and to be able to leap higher than her own head. Her jumping skills progress apace, but young white girls, no matter how determined, cannot become part of the Nandi tribe. Her relationship with Kibii's father, the wise Arap Maina, along with a growing awareness of the consequences of her actions, help lead her into a more mature—though still wildly impulsive and daring—life. MacColl intersperses her third-person narrative with faux news reports and first-person diary entries of two decades later, when Beryl Markham became the first person—let alone woman—to fly a plane west from Europe to America.

Fluid prose elucidates a life much stranger than fiction. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7625-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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