Set in turbulent 18th-century Ireland, this is a coming-of-age story about a boy who seeks to be a drummer in the service of King George II, wearing the uniform of the Fencibles. Coming from a long family line of men who have been Fencibles, Anson believes that they are keepers of the peace; he is ill-prepared to learn the truth—that he is involved in the destruction of the culture of Ireland, its laws, customs, and language. In the name of defending His Majesty’s realm, he witnesses the murder of an Irish man and his son who refuse to give up their only horse to the ruling landowner, and the brutal whipping of an Irish school teacher; he participates in the burning of a village and watches women carrying old people on their backs to escape Fencible terrorism. He resigns, but not before foiling a final act of terrorism and standing up to his father, a Fencible colonel and a man whose loyalty to the Fencibles has never wavered. Schmidt (The Sin Eater, 1996, etc.) describes the real meaning of “keeping the King’s peace” in unvarnished terms: it was gory, terrifying, and unjust. A strong novel, as provocative as it is eloquent. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-91529-5

Page Count: 213

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1999

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Ramona returns (Ramona Forever, 1988, etc.), and she’s as feisty as ever, now nine-going-on-ten (or “zeroteen,” as she calls it). Her older sister Beezus is in high school, baby-sitting, getting her ears pierced, and going to her first dance, and now they have a younger baby sister, Roberta. Cleary picks up on all the details of fourth grade, from comparing hand calluses to the distribution of little plastic combs by the school photographer. This year Ramona is trying to improve her spelling, and Cleary is especially deft at limning the emotional nuances as Ramona fails and succeeds, goes from sad to happy, and from hurt to proud. The grand finale is Ramona’s birthday party in the park, complete with a cake frosted in whipped cream. Despite a brief mention of nose piercing, Cleary’s writing still reflects a secure middle-class family and untroubled school life, untouched by the classroom violence or the broken families of the 1990s. While her book doesn’t match what’s in the newspapers, it’s a timeless, serene alternative for children, especially those with less than happy realities. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16816-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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One of a four-book series designed to help the very young prepare for new siblings, this title presents a toddler-and-mother pair (the latter heavily pregnant) as they read about new babies, sort hand-me-downs, buy new toys, visit the obstetrician and the sonographer, speculate and wait. Throughout, the child asks questions and makes exclamations with complete enthusiasm: “How big is the baby? What does it eat? I felt it move! Is it a boy or girl?” Fuller’s jolly pictures present a biracial family that thoroughly enjoys every moment together. It’s a bit oversimplified, but no one can complain about the positive message it conveys, appropriately, to its baby and toddler audience. The other titles in the New Baby series are My New Baby (ISBN: 978-1-84643-276-7), Look at Me! (ISBN: 978-1-84643-278-1) and You and Me (ISBN: 978-1-84643-277-4). (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84643-275-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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