This potentially inspiring tale staggers along under the weight of a worthy agenda.

READ REVIEW

BLOOD RUNNER

A general indictment of apartheid is thinly wrapped in a tale about a young Zulu marathoner who runs for his country in the Olympics.

When police fire into a crowd watching a peaceful demonstration, they orphan young Samuel and his two older brothers, radicalizing the latter. In later years one brother loses his mind on Robben Island, and the other is killed in a gun battle. Samuel, though, grows up to leverage his love of running barefoot over his dusty tribal “homeland” into a spot on South Africa’s Olympics team after apartheid collapses and Mandela is freed. Riordan loosely bases his disconnected main plot on the experiences of Josiah Thugwane, the first black gold medalist from South Africa. He begins his book with the graphically depicted opening massacre, closely followed by a disturbingly gruesome hospital scene. To these he adds angry rhetoric (“Where was British justice now?”) and ugly words when Samuel goes to get a passbook and later boards a “Whites Only” train car by mistake. For readers who still aren't with the program, he provides infodumps about South Africa’s racial history and the African National Congress and a triumphant set piece when Samuel casts a vote in his first national election. Samuel runs (and wins) the climactic race with a letter from Mandela tucked in his shoe.

This potentially inspiring tale staggers along under the weight of a worthy agenda. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-84507-934-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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Flowing text and outstanding images work together to teach a vital Christian message.

LOOK UP, WHAT DO I SEE?

GOD'S WONDERFUL CREATION

A picture book about a child who looks upward, higher and higher, to take in God’s creations.

A boy sits in his crib, looking up at a mobile. He then begins to see the many things that God has created, starting with his loving parents. Looking higher, he sees a variety of vibrant trees—oak, maple, and evergreen—and then several birds, including sparrows, robins, and hummingbirds. The child’s eyes then take to the heavens, discovering clouds, storms, and the sun, moon, and stars. Finally, the child is taught that God made him, as well: “That is why I know that God loves me!” The book ends with Psalm 139:13-14, which reads, in part, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Debut author Keller makes sure that the discoveries’ progression flows naturally, and he specifies different types of trees and birds in a way that’s both captivating and educational. The repeating Christian message of “God made…” drives the book’s point home but, surprisingly, never comes off as preachy. Also, it effectively affirms the child’s (and reader’s) worth as icing on the cake. Debut illustrator Brandes’ brilliant drawings and vivid, illustrated borders do justice to the beauty of what they portray.

Flowing text and outstanding images work together to teach a vital Christian message.

Pub Date: July 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4787-4980-6

Page Count: 17

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2017

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