MY FATHER THE WEREWOLF

In this subtly offbeat fantasy, a conscience-stricken screenwriter-turned-werewolf flees into hiding with his two teenaged children. Bitten by a werewolf near Pismo Beach, Ken pulls up stakes for his native Maine, settling in a small town, taking a job with a local telemarketer and figuring that his son Danny can row him out to a nearby offshore nature preserve whenever the full moon appears. That scheme works well enough for a while, even after a marijuana grower surreptitiously lands on the island one moonlit night and barely escapes with his life. Then a vicious December cold snap freezes the entire harbor, allowing the murderous monster access to the mainland, and Danny’s heroic efforts to drive his ravening dad back over the ice using smuggled fireworks leave the telemarketer’s office building a smoking ruin. Garfield lets the tale trail off shortly thereafter, rather than resolving anything—but readers will sympathize with Danny and his sister Miranda, as would-be normal teens forced into the role of protectors and caregivers for their feckless, periodically deadly parent. Readers who enjoyed the sardonic undercurrents in M.T. Anderson’s Thirsty (1997) are apt to catch them here, too. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-689-85180-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Richard Jackson/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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Miah’s melodramatic death overshadows a tale as rich in social and personal insight as any of Woodson’s previous books.

IF YOU COME SOFTLY

In a meditative interracial love story with a wrenching climactic twist, Woodson (The House You Pass on the Way, 1997, etc.) offers an appealing pair of teenagers and plenty of intellectual grist, before ending her story with a senseless act of violence.

Jeremiah and Elisha bond from the moment they collide in the hall of their Manhattan prep school: He’s the only child of celebrity parents; she’s the youngest by ten years in a large family. Not only sharply sensitive to the reactions of those around them, Ellie and Miah also discover depths and complexities in their own intense feelings that connect clearly to their experiences, their social environment, and their own characters. In quiet conversations and encounters, Woodson perceptively explores varieties of love, trust, and friendship, as she develops well-articulated histories for both families. Suddenly Miah, forgetting his father’s warning never to be seen running in a white neighborhood, exuberantly dashes into a park and is shot down by police. The parting thought that, willy-nilly, time moves on will be a colder comfort for stunned readers than it evidently is for Ellie.

Miah’s melodramatic death overshadows a tale as rich in social and personal insight as any of Woodson’s previous books. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-399-23112-9

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

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GUTS

THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND HATCHET AND THE BRIAN BOOKS

Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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