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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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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