THE FINAL JOURNEY

The horrors of the Holocaust in a haunting novel by Pausewang (Fall-Out, 1995, etc.) that opens as a young Jewish girl who has grown up in Nazi Germany boards a train with her grandfather bound for Auschwitz: It's the beginning of a journey to hell. Pausewang vividly evokes the indignities and cruelties Jewish citizens bore at the hands of their captors, crammed with nine- year-old Alice into the cattle trucks without bathrooms, water, or fresh air. She sees a woman giving birth on the car's floor and struggles to make sense of the previous disappearances of her beloved parents, grandmother, and others. She recalls the past few years: Hitler's rise to power, her family's temple burned to the ground, her father's lost business, and the family's eventual move into hiding. No reader will be immune to the plight of these people, powerless in the face of overwhelming evil. Although Alice's grandfather dies of a coronary and the child marches off to certain death, she is not alone, but holding the hands of a stranger and her daughters. The brutal message of Pausewang's novel lingers long after the last agonizing pages are closed. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-670-86458-0

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1996

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JOEY PIGZA SWALLOWED THE KEY

From the Joey Pigza series , Vol. 1

If Rotten Ralph were a boy instead of a cat, he might be Joey, the hyperactive hero of Gantos's new book, except that Joey is never bad on purpose. In the first-person narration, it quickly becomes clear that he can't help himself; he's so wound up that he not only practically bounces off walls, he literally swallows his house key (which he wears on a string around his neck and which he pull back up, complete with souvenirs of the food he just ate). Gantos's straightforward view of what it's like to be Joey is so honest it hurts. Joey has been abandoned by his alcoholic father and, for a time, by his mother (who also drinks); his grandmother, just as hyperactive as he is, abuses Joey while he's in her care. One mishap after another leads Joey first from his regular classroom to special education classes and then to a special education school. With medication, counseling, and positive reinforcement, Joey calms down. Despite a lighthearted title and jacket painting, the story is simultaneously comic and horrific; Gantos takes readers right inside a human whirlwind where the ride is bumpy and often frightening, especially for Joey. But a river of compassion for the characters runs through the pages, not only for Joey but for his overextended mom and his usually patient, always worried (if only for their safety) teachers. Mature readers will find this harsh tale softened by unusual empathy and leavened by genuinely funny events. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-374-33664-4

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

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Tales that “lay out your options for painful and interesting ways to die.” And to live.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK HEROES

In a similarly hefty companion to Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods (2014), the most voluble of Poseidon’s many sons dishes on a dozen more ancient relatives and fellow demigods.

Riordan averts his young yarn spinner’s eyes from the sex but not the stupidity, violence, malice, or bad choices that drive so many of the old tales. He leavens full, refreshingly tart accounts of the ups and downs of such higher-profile heroes as Theseus, Orpheus, Hercules, and Jason with the lesser-known but often equally awesome exploits of such butt-kicking ladies as Atalanta, Otrera (the first Amazon), and lion-wrestling Cyrene. In thought-provoking contrast, Psyche comes off as no less heroic, even though her story is less about general slaughter than the tough “Iron Housewives quests” Aphrodite forces her to undertake to rescue her beloved Eros. Furthermore, along with snarky chapter heads (“Phaethon Fails Driver’s Ed”), the contemporary labor includes references to Jay-Z, Apple Maps, god-to-god texting, and the like—not to mention the way the narrator makes fun of hard-to-pronounce names and points up such character flaws as ADHD (Theseus) and anger management issues (Hercules). The breezy treatment effectively blows off at least some of the dust obscuring the timeless themes in each hero’s career. In Rocco’s melodramatically murky illustrations, men and women alike display rippling thews and plenty of skin as they battle ravening monsters.

Tales that “lay out your options for painful and interesting ways to die.” And to live. (maps, index) (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8365-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

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