A simple yet potent message from a child who’s a sometimes-bland messenger.

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IF I COULD FLOAT ON A CLOUD, WHERE WOULD I GO?

A hospital-bound child offers messages of hope in a Christian novel by debut author Smith.

Kipper is about 6 years old and has never known life outside of a hospital. When that young narrator first appears in this inspirational novel, he is in the intensive care unit, and his future on Earth is anything but certain. Yet Kipper is not one to fret. He has a penchant for drawing (his artwork appears throughout the book), a love of clouds, and, after a chance encounter with a young Chinese girl, a personal relationship with Jesus. Kipper’s body may not have much mobility, but his mind is free to roam. And roam it does over topics like the beauty of nature, the free will of humans, and the importance of trusting completely in God. Even as Kipper becomes weaker physically, his spiritual self grows. He learns not to worry, and he encourages readers to do the same with statements such as, “Everything, good and bad, happens for a reason, beyond our own understanding through life.” Kipper’s spiritual progress, though largely predictable, provides a force for reflection. If someone with so little, whose entire life has been so confined, can find so much reason to rejoice, why can’t everyone else? Certain parts of this tale lack much in the way of substance, however. A toy sailboat race has him describing every sailboat and its construction. Kipper also describes every child who participates in the race. This information is no more enticing or motivational than it sounds. Nor is the event made more exciting by the reader’s being told: “It was so exciting to watch, as this race unfolded!” In the end, though, Kipper’s lesson is as lasting as his circumstances are difficult, and some readers might learn much from a boy on the brink of death who finds no reason to give in to despair.

A simple yet potent message from a child who’s a sometimes-bland messenger.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-72833-406-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2020

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ON THE EDGE OF THE DARK SEA OF DARKNESS

THE WINGFEATHER SAGA, BOOK 1

In the goofy fantasy land of Skree, where “totato” gardens are infested with “thwaps” and the town fool dances in circles with socks on his hands, three children find themselves embroiled in the fight against evil. Janner loves younger brother Tink and sister Leeli, but he wishes it wasn’t always his job to protect them. Still, in a world run by the stinky, lizard-like Fangs of Dang, Janner can’t be too careful. The ruler of the Fangs, wicked Gnag the Nameless, wants nothing more than the mythical Jewels of Anniera—and the local Fangs think Janner’s family is hiding them. Over the course of a few too many nick-of-time rescues, the children learn their predictable great secret. Janner’s loving family injects the fantasy tropes with heartfelt sincerity, which lies incongruously among the gags, silly names and fake footnotes. But all the right quest elements are here, and with a bit more balance (less forced clownishness, a more natural flow of narrative tension), the sequel could be a book well worth the wait. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4000-7384-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2008

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A sadly slapdash World War II adventure.

THE LOST GIRLS OF PARIS

Fictional account of the unsung women operatives who helped pave the way for D-Day.

Jenoff’s (The Orphan's Tale, 2017, etc.) latest alternates between postwar America and war-torn Europe. The novel opens in 1946 as Grace, whose soldier husband died in an accident, is trying to reinvent herself in New York City. In Grand Central terminal she stumbles upon an abandoned suitcase, wherein she discovers several photos of young women. Soon, she learns that the suitcase’s owner, Eleanor, recently arrived from London, has been killed by a car. Flashback to 1943: Eleanor, assistant to the Director of Britain’s Special Operations Executive, suggests sending women agents to France to transmit radio intelligence on Nazi movements in aid of the Resistance and the coming Allied invasion. Women, she points out, are less conspicuous masquerading as civilians than men. A native speaker of French, Marie is an ideal candidate. After rigorous training, she is dropped into an area north of Paris, with scant instructions other than to send wireless transmissions as directed by her handler, Julian, code-named Vesper. For reasons not adequately fleshed out, Grace feels compelled to learn more about the women pictured and their connection with Eleanor. With the help of her late husband’s best friend, Mark, a burgeoning love interest, Grace accesses SOE records in Washington, D.C., only to find puzzling evidence that Eleanor may have betrayed her own agents. We hardly see Marie in action as a radio operator; we know of her transmissions from France mainly through Eleanor, the recipient, who immediately suspects something is off—but her superiors ignore her warnings. In any spy thriller clear timelines are essential: Jenoff’s wartime chronology is blurred by overly general date headings (e.g., London, 1944) and confusing continuity. Sparsely punctuated by shocking brutality and defiant bravery, the narrative is, for the most part, flabby and devoid of tension. Overall, this effort seems rushed, and the sloppy language does nothing to dispel that impression.

A sadly slapdash World War II adventure.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7783-3027-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Park Row Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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