ESCAPE FROM BOTANY BAY

THE TRUE STORY OF MARY BRYANT

The most famous survivor of her time, Mary Bryant holds the record for the longest open-boat voyage by a woman. In her day, only Captain Bligh bested her, but he was an experienced navigator. In 1786, 19-year-old Mary—poor and close to starving—made a conscious decision to look hunger in the face and become a highway woman in order to survive. She and her accomplices, Catherine Fryer and Mary Haydon, took to the woodlands and became thieves. Caught early on, Mary was sentenced to hang, but was instead put on a prison ship and sent to help colonize New Holland, now called Australia. Whether this was the better fate was not obvious to the prisoners on this ship that was “full of rats and holes and will sooner sink than sail.” Forced labor in Botany Bay Colony, in the shadow of the gallows erected on the knoll, was a horrible existence, and Mary, her new husband, their two children, and seven other convicts stole a boat and fled 3,000 miles across the ocean. James Boswell defended Mary in court, and her story is well documented in interviews, journals, and histories of the day. The Hausmans write in a lively, inspirational tone, consciously portraying Mary as a hero for modern times. The inelegantly written authors’ note detracts from an otherwise solid story. This will appeal to fans of true adventure tales. (epilogue) (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-439-40327-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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Both a poignant contemplation on 9/11 and a necessary intervention in this current political climate.

ALL WE HAVE LEFT

This election cycle, with its exacerbated Islamophobia, makes author Mills' (Positively Beautiful, 2015) fictive meditation on 9/11 and the 15 years after especially timely.

The book opens with Travis McLaurin, a 19-year-old white man trying to protect Alia Susanto, a 16-year-old hijab-wearing Indonesian-American Muslim, from the debris caused by the South Tower's destruction. The next chapter takes place 15 years later, with Travis' younger sister, Jesse, defacing a building with an Islamophobic slogan before the police catch her. The building, readers learn later, is the Islam Peace Center, where Jesse must do her community service for her crime. Between these plot points, the author elegantly transitions between the gripping descriptions of Alia and Travis trying to survive and Jesse almost falling into the abyss of generational hatred of Islam. In doing so, she artfully educates readers on both the aspects of Islam used as hateful stereotypes and the ruinous effects of Islamophobia. With almost poetic language, the author compassionately renders both the realistic lives, loves, passions, and struggles of Alia ("There's a galaxy between us, hung thick with stars of hurt and disappointment) and Jesse ("I'm caught in a tornado filled with the jagged pieces of my life") as both deal with the fallout of that tragic day.

Both a poignant contemplation on 9/11 and a necessary intervention in this current political climate. (timeline, author's note) (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61963-343-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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