A poignant, dignified tribute to Ury who, as a Jew during World War II, was murdered by her countrymen for whom she had...

NESTHÄKCHEN AND THE WORLD WAR

A uniquely sentimental look at World War I through the eyes of a preteen German girl.

Though still immensely popular in Germany, Ury’s ten Nesthäkchen books are virtually unknown in the United States, an omission Lehrer looks to correct with this fine translation, complete with notes and a brief but highly informative introduction. The book is an engaging tale of two years in the life of Annemarie Braun, a Berlin doctor’s daughter most often referred to by the narrator as "Nesthäkchen,” a wonderfully appropriate sobriquet reserved for spoiled children. Separated from her parents by the war, Annemarie nonetheless lives a comfortable life with her grandmother, siblings, girlfriends and even a cook. The narrative traces her often wildly extravagant, juvenile reactions to the vicissitudes of war. Mercurial by nature, youthfully innocent and self-absorbed due to her social standing, Annemarie filters her experiences of war through her personality in ways that can rarely be deeply felt by the reader, who watches as she flits from one emotion to another, despondent on one page, exultant on the next. Her most sustained behavior proves to be the cruelty she evinces toward a new girl at her school, a long campaign of ill-treatment for which she must eventually seek redemption. Her story is ultimately one of growth through sacrifice, and, not surprisingly, Annemarie matures into a generous, likable young woman by the novel’s end and receives abundant karmic reward for her goodness. Lehrer’s infrequent annotations are precise and cogent, though concerned primarily with military matters sometimes to the exclusion of cultural subjects. With its stilted diction and narrative air of bemused didacticism resembling perhaps nothing more in the American canon than the Horatio Alger books, Nesthäkchen and the World War is no longer likely to appeal to the juvenile audience for which it was originally penned, but Nesthäkchen could, and probably deserves to, find her place in the classroom alongside Ragged Dick as an important glimpse into the spirit of a long-gone age.

A poignant, dignified tribute to Ury who, as a Jew during World War II, was murdered by her countrymen for whom she had written with so much loyalty and love.

Pub Date: May 22, 2006

ISBN: 978-0-595-39729-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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GUTS

THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND HATCHET AND THE BRIAN BOOKS

Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

Aspiring filmmaker/first-novelist Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst—the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden, Charlie oozes sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favorite writers (Harper Lee, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Ayn Rand, etc.). But Charlie’s no rich kid: the third child in a middle-class family, he attends public school in western Pennsylvania, has an older brother who plays football at Penn State, and an older sister who worries about boys a lot. An epistolary novel addressed to an anonymous “friend,” Charlie’s letters cover his first year in high school, a time haunted by the recent suicide of his best friend. Always quick to shed tears, Charlie also feels guilty about the death of his Aunt Helen, a troubled woman who lived with Charlie’s family at the time of her fatal car wreck. Though he begins as a friendless observer, Charlie is soon pals with seniors Patrick and Sam (for Samantha), stepsiblings who include Charlie in their circle, where he smokes pot for the first time, drops acid, and falls madly in love with the inaccessible Sam. His first relationship ends miserably because Charlie remains compulsively honest, though he proves a loyal friend (to Patrick when he’s gay-bashed) and brother (when his sister needs an abortion). Depressed when all his friends prepare for college, Charlie has a catatonic breakdown, which resolves itself neatly and reveals a long-repressed truth about Aunt Helen. A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety. Perhaps the folks at (co-publisher) MTV see the synergy here with Daria or any number of videos by the sensitive singer-songwriters they feature.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02734-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: MTV/Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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