NOT THE END OF THE WORLD

A masterpiece from a gifted storyteller presents the tale of Noah and the Great Flood as anything but a joyride. Seen through the eyes of Noah’s youngest daughter, Timna, with occasional insertions by other members of the family, and even several animal passengers, the Ark is a filthy, festering, all too frail refuge on a strange and scary trip. With her gentle little brother Japheth and Zillah, a bitter abductee to whom he’s been forcibly married, Timna escapes her misfit family into the Ark’s dark, stinking holds whenever possible. There, she helps care not only for the suffering animals, but also for two children, Kittim and his baby sister, who have been secretly rescued from the floodwaters. McCaughrean looks between the lines of the Bible’s sketchy version of events, to the soul-searing effect, for instance, of hearing but having to ignore desperate pleas from outside as the floodwaters rise. She also tucks in ideas from the Odyssey and other ancient tales, plus poignant references to creatures like finucas and quexolans that no longer exist because they died on the voyage. She also, mercifully, suggests that God may have allowed more than just Noah’s family to see the rainbow at the end. Younger than Anne Provoost’s In the Shadow of the Ark (2004) and unlike Richard Monte’s The Flood Tales (2000), this is a breathlessly suspenseful tale as well as a brilliant exploration of doubt, certainty and spirit. It will sweep readers away. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-076030-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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THE NIGHT OF LAS POSADAS

A wondrous occurrence, an ancient tradition, and an elderly nun’s abiding faith are the basis of this moving Chirstmas tale from dePaola (26 Fairmount Avenue, p. 629, etc.). Sister Angie is overjoyed when her niece Lupe and her husband are selected to play Mary and Joseph—here, Maria and José—for Las Posadas, the reenactment of the journey into Bethlehem. When Sister Angie becomes ill and Lupe and Roberto become stranded in a heavy snowstorm, it seems as if the celebration will be delayed. However, a couple arrives just in time to take the place of the missing players. The whole village participates in the procession, from the singers who follow Mary and Joseph, to the “devils” who attempt to prevent the weary travelers from finding lodging. After several rebuffs, the couple arrives at the gates of the courtyard; these open and the entire assembly enters to celebrate. When Lupe and Roberto finally show up, the other couple is nowhere to be found. The story takes a supernatural twist when Sister Angie discovers that the figures in the church’s manger scene have come to life, temporarily, for the procession. The mysteries and miracles of the season are kept at bay; this simple narrative spells everything out, resulting in a primer on the tradition. Richly hued, luminescent illustrations radiate from the pages; an introduction and author’s note provide additional information. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23400-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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THE LAST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE

In this riveting futuristic novel, Spaz, a teenage boy with epilepsy, makes a dangerous journey in the company of an old man and a young boy. The old man, Ryter, one of the few people remaining who can read and write, has dedicated his life to recording stories. Ryter feels a kinship with Spaz, who unlike his contemporaries has a strong memory; because of his epilepsy, Spaz cannot use the mind probes that deliver entertainment straight to the brain and rot it in the process. Nearly everyone around him uses probes to escape their life of ruin and poverty, the result of an earthquake that devastated the world decades earlier. Only the “proovs,” genetically improved people, have grass, trees, and blue skies in their aptly named Eden, inaccessible to the “normals” in the Urb. When Spaz sets out to reach his dying younger sister, he and his companions must cross three treacherous zones ruled by powerful bosses. Moving from one peril to the next, they survive only with help from a proov woman. Enriched by Ryter’s allusions to nearly lost literature and full of intriguing, invented slang, the skillful writing paints two pictures of what the world could look like in the future—the burned-out Urb and the pristine Eden—then shows the limits and strengths of each. Philbrick, author of Freak the Mighty (1993) has again created a compelling set of characters that engage the reader with their courage and kindness in a painful world that offers hope, if no happy endings. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-08758-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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