AL CAPSELLA AND THE WATCHDOGS

In an engaging sequel to The Heroic Life of Al Capsella (1990), Al continues his affectionate sparring with parents who are almost as outlandish as they seem to his embarrassed 15-year- old eyes. Mrs. Capsella, successful author of romances, has given Al a notably lumpy, badly sewn, homemade beanbag chair that proves to contain all the ``Home Duties presents'' (apron, egg- timer, etc.) her mother had forced on her. Worse, she and his friends' parents are forever observing their young, resorting to ruses like borrowing each other's dogs in order to spy on unsupervised parties; they are also taking courses on how to deal with adolescents, resulting in transparently uncharacteristic tact and sympathetic concern. Meanwhile, Mrs. Capsella's truly bizarre parents come to stay and comment on her every move, precipitating the two younger generations into an alliance of sorts. The flavor here may be Australian, but the anxieties and fencing between parent and child are universal. What's special is Al's mellow tone: he may find his parents inconvenient or incomprehensible, but he views them with an amused tolerance that's both hilarious and endearing (and, one hopes, contagious). (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: June 28, 1991

ISBN: 0-8050-1598-1

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1991

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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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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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