KIPLING’S CHOICE

“John Kipling was just one small officer in the Great War,” the war to end all wars. He was 18 years old in his first and last battle. He was the only son of the world-famous author, Rudyard Kipling, who pulled strings to get John into the army. “Perfectly timed,” Rudyard thought of the war. “Here was John’s chance.” Moreover, Kipling’s wartime writing rallied the nation, his verses like oil on the fire. Second Lieutenant Kipling suffers horrific injuries as part of the Irish Guards in France, and Spillebeen’s grim narrative tells the alternating stories of John’s death throes and how he ended up a soldier in the first place. His death breaks his father, who’s horrified at what he has done. “How many boys have I written into the grave,” he wonders. This powerful anti-war novel, made even more powerful by its roots in a famous author’s real life and his evolution from war zealot to embittered, broken father, deserves a place beside All Quiet on the Western Front. (epilogue, bibliography) (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: May 30, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-43124-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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THE BOOK THIEF

When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as “an attempt—a flying jump of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.” When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor’s wife’s library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel’s experiences move Death to say, “I am haunted by humans.” How could the human race be “so ugly and so glorious” at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83100-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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CLOCKWORK ANGEL

From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 1

A century before the events of Clare’s Mortal Instruments trilogy, another everyday heroine gets entangled with demon-slaying Shadowhunters. Sixteen-year-old orphaned Tessa comes to London to join her brother but is imprisoned by the grotesque Dark Sisters. The sisters train the unwilling Tessa in previously unknown shapeshifter abilities, preparing her to be a pawn in some diabolical plan. A timely rescue brings Tessa to the Institute, where a group of misfit Shadowhunters struggles to fight evil. Though details differ, the general flavor of Tessa’s new family will be enjoyably familiar to the earlier trilogy’s fans; the most important is Tessa’s rescuer Will, the gorgeous, sharp-tongued teenager with a mysterious past and a smile like “Lucifer might have smiled, moments before he fell from Heaven.” The lush, melodramatic urban fantasy setting of the Shadowhunter world morphs seamlessly into a steampunk Victorian past, and this new series provides the setup for what will surely be a climactic battle against hordes of demonically powered brass clockworks. The tale drags in places, but this crowdpleaser’s tension-filled conclusion ratchets toward a new set of mysteries. (Steampunk. 13-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7586-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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