A worthy companion to Lin's Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (2009).

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STARRY RIVER OF THE SKY

From the Where the Mountain Meets the Moon series , Vol. 2

When a troubled runaway arrives in an isolated Chinese village where the moon has disappeared, he initiates a quest to find the missing orb and resolve his past.

Escaping from home in a merchant’s cart, Rendi’s abandoned in the Village of Clear Sky, where the innkeeper hires him as chore boy. Bad-tempered and insolent, Rendi hates Clear Sky, but he has no way of leaving the sad village where every night the sky moans and the moon has vanished. The innkeeper’s bossy daughter irritates Rendi. He wonders about the innkeeper’s son who’s disappeared and about peculiar old Mr. Shan, who confuses toads with rabbits. When mysterious Madame Chang arrives at the inn, her storytelling transports Rendi. She challenges him to contribute his own stories, in which he gradually reveals his identity as son of a wealthy magistrate. Realizing there’s a connection between Madame Chang’s stories and the missing moon, Rendi assumes the hero’s mantle, transforming himself from a selfish, self-focused boy into a thoughtful young man who learns the meaning of home, harmony and forgiveness. Lin artfully wraps her hero’s story in alternating layers of Chinese folklore, providing rich cultural context. Detailed, jewel-toned illustrations and spot art reminiscent of Chinese painting highlight key scenes and themes and serve as the focus of an overall exquisite design.

A worthy companion to Lin's Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (2009). (author's note, bibliography of Chinese folk tales) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-12595-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Omakayas cannot find her way back to happiness until an odd old woman tells her the truth of her past, in a novel that is by...

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THE BIRCHBARK HOUSE

From the Birchbark House series , Vol. 1

With this volume, Erdrich (Grandmother’s Pigeon, 1996, etc.) launches her cycle of novels about a 19th-century Ojibwa family, covering in vivid detail their everyday life as they move through the seasons of one year on an island on Lake Superior.

A baby girl crawls among the bodies of her family, dead from smallpox. After that stinging beginning, an unexpectedly enjoyable story follows, replete with believable characterizations, humor, family love, and misadventures. Omakayas, now seven, adores baby brother Neewo, detests rambunctious five-year-old brother Pinch, and worships her beautiful teenage sister, Angeline. Omakayas works and plays through the summer and fall, learning the ways of her people; she has a frightful adventure with bears and adopts a young raven as a pet. But in winter smallpox again affects her life: Neewo dies, and Angeline is scarred for life.

Omakayas cannot find her way back to happiness until an odd old woman tells her the truth of her past, in a novel that is by turns charming, suspenseful, and funny, and always bursting with life.  (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7868-0300-2

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

THE CONSPIRACY

From the Plot to Kill Hitler series , Vol. 1

Near the end of World War II, two kids join their parents in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

Max, 12, lives with his parents and his older sister in a Berlin that’s under constant air bombardment. During one such raid, a mortally wounded man stumbles into the white German family’s home and gasps out his last wish: “The Führer must die.” With this nighttime visitation, Max and Gerta discover their parents have been part of a resistance cell, and the siblings want in. They meet a colorful band of upper-class types who seem almost too whimsical to be serious. Despite her charming levity, Prussian aristocrat and cell leader Frau Becker is grimly aware of the stakes. She enlists Max and Gerta as couriers who sneak forged identification papers to Jews in hiding. Max and Gerta are merely (and realistically) cogs in the adults’ plans, but there’s plenty of room for their own heroism. They escape capture, rescue each other when they’re caught out during an air raid, and willingly put themselves repeatedly at risk to catch a spy. The fictional plotters—based on a mix of several real anti-Hitler resistance cells—are portrayed with a genuine humor, giving them the space to feel alive even in such a slim volume.

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35902-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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