REBELS OF THE HEAVENLY KINGDOM

One of Paterson's solemn historical adventures, on a par with her exquisitely evoked Japanese novels, this one set in China in the thick of the Taiping Rebellion. Teenage Wang Lee is kidnapped from his father's humble farm by swinish bandits, then purchased by a kind stranger who turns out to be Mei Lin, a woman, little older than himself, strong and shockingly unwomanly in her large unbound feet. Mei Lin brings him into the secret society of the Heavenly Kingdom and teaches him its Christian-derived, anti-Manchu, class-free doctrines—but it is not until they and their traveling companion Chu have been some time in the society's mountain headquarters, preparing for war with the reigning Demons, that Wang Lee becomes caught up in the Heavenly fervor. By then the males and females have been separated, Mei Lin has become an officer among the horseback Women Warriors, and Wang Lee is in charge of a small group of soldiers. He learns to kill but never overcomes for long the unease at some of the deeds performed in the name of Heavenly peace. He comes to love Mei Lin but she discourages all personal feelings and spouts the dicta of the society. Finally, however, Mei Lin—who in her earlier life had been sold as a slave to satisfy the lusts of soldiers—is summoned to be the bride of the Heavenly King, a man we've seen only from a distance but one who is projected as an absolute monarch as tricky and corrupt as any other. To escape the wedding—in a rather abrupt change of attitude—Mei Lin flees with Wang Lee and the two settle happily to raise a family on his father's land. Before their reunion he's had other adventures, including a period of kitchen service disguised as a girl—a result of being recaptured, when sent out as a spy, by the same bandits who had kidnapped him originally. The pair has also been through a number of battles with the army and imperative celebration within the camp. The whole course of Wang Lee's awakening, disillusionment, and return is set down quite formally, with Paterson's talent for tapestry-like recreations.

Pub Date: June 21, 1983

ISBN: 0888998856

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1983

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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