SACAJAWEA

The Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the northwest part of the American continent probably would not have ever been completed without the help of the young Shoshone woman Sacajawea. She and her sister, Otter Woman, were kidnapped from their tribe and kept captive by the Minetarees, a tribe that had been influenced in language and customs by its years of contact with French and English traders. Sacajawea picked up the ability to speak the whites’ languages—a skill that stood her in good stead five years later when a French trader, Toussaint Charbonneau, won her and Otter Woman from their Minetaree captor. Charbonneau married the young Sacajawea, and they had a son. Soon after, Charbonneau was hired by Lewis and Clark to accompany their expedition in its next phase along the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean—and Charbonneau was invited to bring his family along. This was wonderful news to Sacajawea, whose great dream was to be united once again with her Shoshone family. Much has been written about Sacajawea’s role in the expedition, how she and her child disarmed even the most hostile Indians and how her skill in languages, along with her ability to find food, kept them all going through the severe rigors of the long trip. The story in this book is told in alternative voices by Sacajawea and William Clark, the co-leader of the expedition, giving an added dimension to the tale and helping to clarify much of what happened along the way. Couched in Bruchac’s elegant prose, this epic tale of courage and endurance is both a grand adventure story and an inspiration that is not to be missed. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-202234-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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