A SUDDEN SILENCE

A moving piece of Americana from a veteran team (Fly Away Home, 1992, etc.), introducing the orphan trains of the 19th and early 20th century to a picture-book audience. Marianne narrates; she's among 14 children from the orphanages and streets of New York City who are being shipped to the "New West" of Illinois and Iowa in search of good homes. At stop after stop her traveling mates are chosen, some clearly for their strength and usefulness, others for their looks. Marianne is neither strong nor pretty and is repeatedly passed over. Secretly she has promised herself that her mother would be at one of the stops to meet her. In the end she is taken in by a nice, elderly couple who readers know will treat her well. Himler's lovely watercolor and gouache paintings express both the loneliness and hope of the children in scene after scene of the rugged new country. A reminder that the good old days were not so idyllic; this book will have a place in the history curriculum, but it's also an involving read-aloud.Jesse Harmon's struggle to cope with the death of his younger brother, Bry, in a hit-and-run accident is complicated by his sense of guilt for having failed to prevent the accident and by his relationship with Bry's girl, Chloe. Jesse had been close to Bry, a talented 16-year-old whose deafness contributed to his death. Trying to deal with their grief, Jesse and Chloe collaborate in a search for the killer; working together, they feel a mutual attraction. Bunting skillfully creates suspense through an elusive witness (a local wino) and a false lead (a young drunk who can't remember whether he killed Bry). When the clues lead inexorably to Chloe's alcoholic mother, Jesse finds himself forced, with her acquiescence, to hurt Chloe by making the truth public. Despite the suspenseful pacing, Bunting handles Jesse and Chloe's relationship with sensitivity. By including several minor characters whose alcoholism is pivotal to the plot, she emphasizes the tragedy that alcohol can inflict on innocent bystanders and other family members.

Pub Date: April 10, 1988

ISBN: 0152058680

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1988

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HATCHET

A prototypical survival story: after an airplane crash, a 13-year-old city boy spends two months alone in the Canadian wilderness. In transit between his divorcing parents, Brian is the plane's only passenger. After casually showing him how to steer, the pilot has a heart attack and dies. In a breathtaking sequence, Brian maneuvers the plane for hours while he tries to think what to do, at last crashing as gently and levelly as he can manage into a lake. The plane sinks; all he has left is a hatchet, attached to his belt. His injuries prove painful but not fundamental. In time, he builds a shelter, experiments with berries, finds turtle eggs, starts a fire, makes a bow and arrow to catch fish and birds, and makes peace with the larger wildlife. He also battles despair and emerges more patient, prepared to learn from his mistakes—when a rogue moose attacks him and a fierce storm reminds him of his mortality, he's prepared to make repairs with philosophical persistence. His mixed feelings surprise him when the plane finally surfaces so that he can retrieve the survival pack; and then he's rescued. Plausible, taut, this is a spellbinding account. Paulsen's staccato, repetitive style conveys Brian's stress; his combination of third-person narrative with Brian's interior monologue pulls the reader into the story. Brian's angst over a terrible secret—he's seen his mother with another man—is undeveloped and doesn't contribute much, except as one item from his previous life that he sees in better perspective, as a result of his experience. High interest, not hard to read. A winner.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1987

ISBN: 1416925082

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1987

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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