A harsh, patchy tale of the first Crusade. Bradford yokes a conventional romance between a young stonemason and the daughter of an apothecary to an ugly account of the unreasoning fervor, multiple treacheries, genocide, and bloody massacres that marked the People's Crusade, from Cologne to Jerusalem, in 1096. It's an uneasy match: Gentle, pacifist Bruno and 16-year-old Ursula, with her preference for hot baths and disdain for money, are not credible products of their times, and are never seriously affected by the violent events. Rather than burn at the stake as a witch, Ursula accompanies her feeble father on the march from Cologne to Constantinople. As the other Crusaders pillage towns and massacre Jews (offstage), Ursula heals an injured dog, rescues an abused child, repels assaults on her virtue, and survives two attacks, all without injury; Bruno is forced to kill a man (also offstage), but his depression lasts only until the two get back to Cologne and discover that they love each other. In the end, Ursula finds a bag of money in her burnt house, but gives it away, saying, ``I already have everything I need.'' Steer readers to Karen Cushman's The Midwife's Apprentice (1995) for its more richly developed characters and vivid, better-integrated picture of medieval life. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-525-67539-6

Page Count: 195

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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Miah’s melodramatic death overshadows a tale as rich in social and personal insight as any of Woodson’s previous books.


In a meditative interracial love story with a wrenching climactic twist, Woodson (The House You Pass on the Way, 1997, etc.) offers an appealing pair of teenagers and plenty of intellectual grist, before ending her story with a senseless act of violence.

Jeremiah and Elisha bond from the moment they collide in the hall of their Manhattan prep school: He’s the only child of celebrity parents; she’s the youngest by ten years in a large family. Not only sharply sensitive to the reactions of those around them, Ellie and Miah also discover depths and complexities in their own intense feelings that connect clearly to their experiences, their social environment, and their own characters. In quiet conversations and encounters, Woodson perceptively explores varieties of love, trust, and friendship, as she develops well-articulated histories for both families. Suddenly Miah, forgetting his father’s warning never to be seen running in a white neighborhood, exuberantly dashes into a park and is shot down by police. The parting thought that, willy-nilly, time moves on will be a colder comfort for stunned readers than it evidently is for Ellie.

Miah’s melodramatic death overshadows a tale as rich in social and personal insight as any of Woodson’s previous books. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-399-23112-9

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

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Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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