BENJAMIN DOVE by Fridrik Erlings


Age Range: 11 - 14
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An adult Benjamin recalls the pivotal childhood summer in which he learned friendship, forgiveness, death and the loss of innocence in this translated novel from Iceland. In a blue-collar shipyard town, Benjamin and his friends, Roland, Jeff and Manny, often meet at the “Ground,” the common area of their apartment buildings. After hearing tales of Roland’s Scottish ancestry and after the neighborhood bully hangs “Grandma” Dell’s cat, the boys form the Order of the Red Dragon, a knighthood “for justice, against injustice,” and select personal insignia (dove, dragon, eagle and unicorn). The competitive Jeff finds the Order’s mock fencing too benign, however, and joins The Black Feather, a dangerous rival gang. The story’s mounting tension plays out in tragedy and redemption when The Black Feather kidnaps Manny and challenges the Order to an actual sword-wielding battle. Originally published in 1992, this received numerous accolades, including The Icelandic Children’s Book Award and an IBBY Award. David Almond fans may take interest in the story’s similar tone and themes, but unfortunately, other readers will be turned off by the translation’s stilted dialogue. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7358-2150-X
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: NorthSouth
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2007


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