ANOTHER KIND OF MONDAY

In this arty, open-ended tale, Coles (with Stephen Schwandt, Funnybone, 1992) writes notes to his own characters, leading them on a treasure hunt through Pittsburgh's history as well as some of its unsavory neighborhoods. In an old library copy of Dickens's Great Expectations, high school senior Mark Bettors finds three crisp $100 bills and a letter that, in grandiloquent, allusion-spattered language, invites him to undertake a quest for a great, though unspecified, reward. For his one companion, he chooses Zeena Curry, a classmate with a white father, a black mother, and a big chip on her shoulder. Except that they are both rude, disagreeable sorts (especially to their parents), the two seem to have little in common, but they make the effort to work together, in the library (Mark ``hated librarians. They always acted like you were stupid for not knowing things'') and at a series of historical sites. Predictably, Mark and Zeena become close; they learn in a final letter that their treasure is the realization that everyone has a personal, self- created story. Students of Pittsburgh's past might enjoy the itinerary, but many books—Julian Thompson's Herb Seasoning (1990) among them—take lighter, more imaginative routes to that pot of gold. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80254-4

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1996

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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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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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