This quiet story about a tragic and shameful episode in American history may not be compelling enough to attract those who...

RUNS WITH COURAGE

In the Dakota Territory of the 1880s, 9-year-old Four Winds struggles to find her way after being abruptly taken from her family and coerced into attending an Indian boarding school.

Subjected to a series of cruel humiliations intended to “kill the Indian, save the man,” she sees her clothes burned and her hair cut (something normally reserved for mourning in her culture). Physically punished for speaking Lakota and labelled a “savage” for expressing emotion through dance, the newly named Sarah slowly begins to adjust to white cultural norms, ultimately negotiating a resolution that allows her to use her suffering to help guide her community. In her second book focusing on forced acculturation, Wolf (Someone Named Eva, 2007) skillfully educates readers about the historical context. Unfortunately most of the characters remain emotionally flat—there is far more telling than showing—and the plot moves slowly. While Four Winds’ interior monologue feels natural and realistic, the dialogue of both Natives and whites is stilted, further distancing readers. The most intriguing character is Catches Fire, a Lakota boy whose apparent mental slowness hides a surprising back story, but this strand of the tale is not fleshed out.

This quiet story about a tragic and shameful episode in American history may not be compelling enough to attract those who are not die-hard fans of the genre. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58536-984-3

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

This pitch-perfect contemporary novel gently explores the past’s repercussions on the present

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • Schneider Family Book Award Winner

AS BRAVE AS YOU

Eleven-year-old Brooklynite Genie has “worry issues,” so when he and his older brother, Ernie, are sent to Virginia to spend a month with their estranged grandparents while their parents “try to figure it all out,” he goes into overdrive.

First, he discovers that Grandpop is blind. Next, there’s no Internet, so the questions he keeps track of in his notebook (over 400 so far) will have to go un-Googled. Then, he breaks the model truck that’s one of the only things Grandma still has of his deceased uncle. And he and Ernie will have to do chores, like picking peas and scooping dog poop. What’s behind the “nunya bidness door”? And is that a gun sticking out from Grandpop’s waistband? Reynolds’ middle-grade debut meanders like the best kind of summer vacation but never loses sense of its throughline. The richly voiced third-person narrative, tightly focused through Genie’s point of view, introduces both brothers and readers to this rural African-American community and allows them to relax and explore even as it delves into the many mysteries that so bedevil Genie, ranging from "Grits? What exactly are they?" to, heartbreakingly, “Why am I so stupid?” Reynolds gives his readers uncommonly well-developed, complex characters, especially the completely believable Genie and Grandpop, whose stubborn self-sufficiency belies his vulnerability and whose flawed love both Genie and readers will cherish.

This pitch-perfect contemporary novel gently explores the past’s repercussions on the present . (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1590-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

more