GILBERT AND SULLIVAN SET ME FREE

Based on historical events that would seem incredible if fictitious, this fast-paced outing places itself in a Massachusetts women’s prison in 1914. Libby Dodge, 16, in for jewel theft, finds herself mixing with a veritable stew of female felons, from housebreakers and prostitutes to drug addicts and baby murderers. When she comes to the attention of the new prison chaplain because of her clear singing voice, a new chapter in her life opens up. Against all probability, the chaplain turns a ragtag mob of criminals into first a choir, then a full-scale theatre company to perform The Pirates of Penzance, creating goodwill, solidarity, and self-esteem among the motley bunch. Karr offers an appealing blend of comedy, drama, history, and politics, the latter played out in the conversations among the inmates whose takes on women’s rights in 1914 still seem relevant today. If the ending for Libby is a little pie-in-the-sky, given her antecedents, it is still emotionally satisfying. A splendid historical note details the actual events and individuals that inspired the novel. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7868-1916-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point.

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 Boyne’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

Did you like this book?

THE LOUD SILENCE OF FRANCINE GREEN

It’s 1949, and 13-year-old Francine Green lives in “the land of ‘Sit down, Francine’ and ‘Be quiet, Francine’ ” at All Saints School for Girls in Los Angeles. When she meets Sophie Bowman and her father, she’s encouraged to think about issues in the news: the atomic bomb, peace, communism and blacklisting. This is not a story about the McCarthy era so much as one about how one girl—who has been trained to be quiet and obedient by her school, family, church and culture—learns to speak up for herself. Cushman offers a fine sense of the times with such cultural references as President Truman, Hopalong Cassidy, Montgomery Clift, Lucky Strike, “duck and cover” and the Iron Curtain. The dialogue is sharp, carrying a good part of this story of friends and foes, guilt and courage—a story that ought to send readers off to find out more about McCarthy, his witch-hunt and the First Amendment. Though not a happily-ever-after tale, it dramatizes how one person can stand up to unfairness, be it in front of Senate hearings or in the classroom. (author’s note) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-618-50455-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more