Based on actual events and richly immersive in the feel of the period, this effort rises above sometimes-awkward exposition...

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WAITING FOR THE QUEEN

A NOVEL OF EARLY AMERICA

Everyone in New France, a village in Pennsylvania, awaits Queen Marie Antoinette’s arrival—as soon as she escapes the French Revolution.

The ridiculously overdressed and sadly inept nobles and their families who have fled France with little but their lives believe that their queen will provide needed civility to the village their American hirelings are carving out of the Pennsylvania wilderness for them. Eugenie, 15 and haunted by the horrors they’ve escaped, arrives unprepared for the harshly primitive conditions they find, and she’s annoyed by her unrealistic mother’s matchmaking with an unpleasant young noble. In alternating chapters, her story is contrasted with that of Quaker Hannah, who, like her father and brother, has been hired to help the French out for a year but whose faith keeps her from the subservience the noblemen demand. The French have been joined by a Caribbean slaveholder and his four brutally mistreated slaves; this provides a catalyst for a developing friendship between the two girls, in spite of disdainful Maman’s rejection of the American girl and her competently down-to-earth ways. The gradual, believable changes in both girls’ characters add an appealing dimension to an engrossing depiction of this little-known episode.

Based on actual events and richly immersive in the feel of the period, this effort rises above sometimes-awkward exposition to create a well-rounded, satisfying historical tale. (Historical fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-57131-700-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Milkweed

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Rich and strange of place and premise; suspenseful and thought-provoking.

THE <i>LEFT-HANDED FATE</i>

An ancient inscription and a handful of inscrutable artifacts plunge three young people into both the War of 1812 and a much larger, older conflict.

Opening in Baltimore then moving on to the not-entirely-earthly town of Nagspeake (setting, in another era, of Milford’s Greenglass House, 2014), the tale centers on staid, methodical “natural philosopher” Max Ault; 12-year-old American naval officer Oliver Dexter; and fiery Lucy Bluecrowne, daughter of a renowned British privateer, captain of the titular ship. It pits them against both relentless French pursuers and mysterious men in black with eldritch abilities. The prize is a three-part device made thousands of years ago and said to be able to stop war…a superweapon, or so everyone (nearly everyone) presumes. Along with being replete with rousing chases, races, and violent explosions, the tale is uncommonly rich in memorable characters, from the central three, who all display stout hearts and hidden depths, to Lucy’s 9-year-old half brother, part-Chinese Liao: pacifist, expert lockpick, and fireworks genius extraordinaire. The labyrinthine Nagspeake itself is magical and vivid enough to serve as more than just a setting (and deservedly sports a metafictional website). Wheeler’s neatly turned monochromes capture the tale’s warmth and wonder, though (at least as she depicts it) the cast appears to be white, excepting Liao.

Rich and strange of place and premise; suspenseful and thought-provoking. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9800-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A respectful, sometimes irreverent and broadly multicultural treasury of dramas, romances, chillers, knee-slappers and...

1492

NEW WORLD TALES

In this much-expanded version of a 1992 collection, two veteran storytellers present tales that were being told in the Americas, North Africa and on the Iberian Peninsula the day Christopher Columbus made landfall.

Probably, that is. As their conscientious source notes indicate, the 50-plus short myths, legends, anecdotes and animal tales (up from 20 in Stories from the Days of Christopher Columbus) were all gathered from later collections or learned from modern members of indigenous groups. Still, the cross-sectional approach results in a mix of relatively well-known episodes with those that are less familiar. Among the former are “Why Anansi Has a Narrow Waist,” a Spanish version of “The Three Sillies” called “Bastianito” and two verse extracts from the legends of El Cid. Readers are less likely to know scary tales from Aztec Zempoala and Tlacopán, exploits of the clever Mayan “Dwarf of Uxmal,” creation myths from Taíno Guanahaní, Basque, and Moroccan Jewish tales—among dozens of other rarities from carefully specified locales. Despite a generally informal tone (“King Sancho the Eleventy Leventh became angry”), this lends itself less to reading straight through than using as a storyteller’s resource; along with frequent prefatory cultural notes, the Youngs add discussion points, glossaries, and inserted pronunciations for proper names and non-English phrases.

A respectful, sometimes irreverent and broadly multicultural treasury of dramas, romances, chillers, knee-slappers and teaching tales. (introduction) (Folk tales. 11-14, adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-939160-73-7

Page Count: 180

Publisher: August House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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