THE ROGUES

Yolen and Harris conclude their planned quartet of Scottish novels with this tale of the 18th-century Highland Clearances. When the Macallans are suddenly harried off their rented farmstead by their new Laird’s cruel factor to make way for herds of English sheep, teenaged Roddy sneaks back to the burned-out croft in search of a brooch given to the family generations ago by Bonnie Prince Charlie. Just as he finds it, the Laird happens by, seizes the treasure and orders Roddy’s murder—but along comes bootlegger and ex-soldier Alan Dunbar to the rescue. With the help of the old Laird’s canny daughter Josie, they contrive to steal the brooch back—killing the factor in the process and setting off a breathless chase over the rugged hills. As in some of the previous volumes, the plot relies heavily on coincidences, and the characters (some of whom are tenuously based on historical figures) often come across as mouthpieces to explain the historical situation or rail at the unjustness of it all. Still, the authors weave strong feelings and a clear sense of setting into a story that gains momentum as it progresses and also ends happily. A good finish to the quartet, with echoes of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped to savor. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-399-23898-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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PRIVATE PEACEFUL

From England’s Children’s Laureate, a searing WWI-era tale of a close extended family repeatedly struck by adversity and injustice. On vigil in the trenches, 17-year-old Thomas Peaceful looks back at a childhood marked by guilt over his father’s death, anger at the shabby treatment his strong-minded mother receives from the local squire and others—and deep devotion to her, to his brain-damaged brother Big Joe, and especially to his other older brother Charlie, whom he has followed into the army by lying about his age. Weaving telling incidents together, Morpurgo surrounds the Peacefuls with mean-spirited people at home, and devastating wartime experiences on the front, ultimately setting readers up for a final travesty following Charlie’s refusal of an order to abandon his badly wounded brother. Themes and small-town class issues here may find some resonance on this side of the pond, but the particular cultural and historical context will distance the story from American readers—particularly as the pace is deliberate, and the author’s hints about where it’s all heading are too rare and subtle to create much suspense. (Fiction. 11-13, adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-439-63648-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2004

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THREE AGAINST THE TIDE

In an absorbing historical novel from Love (My Lone Star Summer, 1996, etc.), three children flee their South Carolina Sea Island plantation, hoping to find their father, who is off spying for General Lee. Neglected by the neighbors who were supposed to care for them, the three Simon children quickly discover that they’re not up to managing on their own; when all the slaves disappear, Susanna, 12, and her younger brothers pack what they can and set off for Charleston. After a wild, nearly disastrous boat ride, they arrive, but only to find that they’re still on their own, in a town rife with rumors of an imminent Yankee invasion. Left homeless by a fire, they set off again, this time for General Lee’s headquarters. An independent sort who prefers trousers to dresses, Susanna finds that her sheltered, motherless life has left her little prepared for supervising slaves, keeping house, or even finding food for herself and her brothers; she muddles through, and is rewarded by a meeting with the godlike Lee, who expedites a joyful family reunion. Love establishes a strong sense of era with perceptive comments from slaves and slaveowners alike, keeps the plot speeding along, and in Susanna concocts a winning mix of intelligence, strong will, and naãvetÇ. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 1998

ISBN: 0-8234-1400-0

Page Count: 162

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1998

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