Prince Rama of Dasaratha is near death after an encounter with a beautiful green-haired creature he found in a newly plowed field. His mother, the old queen Kowsalya, tells the king that in the realm of King Janaka is a woman with the power to cure Rama. They travel there, Rama is cured, and he falls in love with Sita, the lovely green- haired daughter of King Janaka. (Rama has no recollection of his illness or the creature that caused it.) He passes a test in order to wed the beautiful Sita, and by marrying him she becomes human. Sita and Rama return to Dasaratha where they live happily until the king's young queen, Kekay-yee, forces the king to banish his son. Sita, Rama, and Rama's brother, Laksmana, leave the kingdom. In the wilderness outside the kingdom, they encounter demons and spirits, and Sita is abducted. Rama regains his kingdom and takes revenge on Kekay-yee. Eventually Sita returns—in her nonhuman form- -to give Rama her most precious possession: the gift of life. In his endnote, adult and YA author Highwater (The Language of Vision, p. 608, etc.) explains the origins of this traditional myth of India and Southeast Asia. The work on which it's based, Ramayana, was 24,000 verses written in the first century B.C. Luckily, Highwater's version is shorter; but it's unfortunately too long, despite the lovely language, to keep the reader's attention. (Folklore. 11-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8050-3052-2

Page Count: 185

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1994

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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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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.


From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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