An engrossing religious and historical account that would make a valuable companion to a high school history unit on Joan of...

JOAN

A NOVEL OF JOAN OF ARC

Debut YA that fictionalizes the life of Joan of Arc.

Ng begins this tale in the early 1400s with the childhood of Joan of Arc. The story is told in the second person, with the narrator addressing St. Margaret of Antioch, who has returned from heaven years after her death to provide Joan with messages from St. Catherine and the archangel Michael. These biblical figures instruct Joan to leave her childhood home in Domremy and assist King Charles VII in rescuing the French from British dominion. When Joan finally travels to Chinon to see Charles, Margaret is her near-constant (but always invisible) companion. During Joan’s journey, Ng provides many interesting details about life in France during the 15th century, as well as the battle between the French and the English (now known as the Hundred Years’ War) that had been ongoing since 1337. When Joan reaches Chinon, she is laughed at for insisting that she join the fight. As a young girl in an extremely male-dominated era, Joan must exhibit tremendous perseverance, patience and wit before she can convince the king even to see her. After passing every test that Charles’ men throw at her, she is eventually embraced by the French monarchy. Joan soon leads the charge against the English, miraculously achieving multiple victories in battle. Ng takes great pains to show Joan’s humanity and compassion for the casualties of war on both sides. As the fighting continues, Ng portrays Joan’s capture by the British as well as her difficult trial in their courts. Throughout this harrowing period for Joan, St. Margaret offers her solace. Despite the unusual narration, Ng manages to draw readers to Joan’s side during her tribulations, and he creates sympathetic characters in both Joan and Margaret. Readers might hope that divine intervention will lead to a different outcome than in the true historical account.

An engrossing religious and historical account that would make a valuable companion to a high school history unit on Joan of Arc.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1497435933

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Three Daughters Press

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2014

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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