HAWKSMAID

THE UNTOLD STORY OF ROBIN HOOD AND MAID MARIAN

Veteran Lasky combines the Robin Hood/Maid Marian story with falconry. Matty and Fynn are childhood friends, playing together when Matty is not being taught by her father, Lord William, to work with hawks. She begins to understand hawk language, getting inside their minds as she trains them. When Prince John and his allies murder Matty’s mother for her jewels, her father pines away. Loyal to King Richard, Matty, Fynn and a host of local lads work to keep their families fed and Prince John hassled—and then to raise the funds to ransom Richard when he is captured. Flash-forward: Matty has metamorphosed into Marian and Fynn into Robin Hood, paving the way for more derring-do. Matty/Marian’s uncanny communication with her hawks takes the novel into the realm of fantasy as she slips into the mind of bird after bird to effect her own rescue, bring ransom to Eleanor of Aquitaine and declare her love for Fynn/Robin. Each chapter begins with a bit of hawk lore (not sourced). It doesn’t bear up under scrutiny, but it’s fun to read. (author’s note) (Historical fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-000071-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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A richly detailed account of a little-known event in World War II.

LIFEBOAT 12

An escape from war-torn Britain becomes a struggle for survival when a ship is torpedoed off the coast of England.

In June 1940, Great Britain formed the Children’s Overseas Reception Board to transfer Britain’s children away from the encroaching war to safe harbors around the world. Over 200,000 children between the ages of 5 and 15 applied for just 20,000 spots. Thirteen-year-old Kenneth Sparks is chosen to travel on the City of Benares, a luxury ocean liner, to Canada, where he will live with his aunt in Edmonton. The children are distracted by rich food, new toys, and soft beds, but the accompanying convoy of war ships is a constant reminder that while the blitzkrieg might be behind them, German torpedoes are a very present threat. Three days into their voyage, the Benares is hit, sending crew and passengers into the lifeboats and the water. Ken, along with a handful of others, all white except 32 Asian sailors of varied ethnicity (called Lascars at the time), must survive with little water, food, or shelter if they are to make it out alive. Told in verse, the story of Lifeboat 12 is lyrical, terrifying, and even at times funny. Hood makes effective use of line breaks and punctuation to wrap readers up in Ken’s tale. Copious research, including interviews with the real Ken Sparks, went into the making of this fictional recasting of a true story of survival. Backmatter offers further information, including the racism experienced by the Lascars.

A richly detailed account of a little-known event in World War II. (Historical verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6883-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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The bird’s-eye view into this pivotal moment provides a powerful story, one that adults will applaud—but between the...

MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON

The ugly brutality of the Jim Crow South is recounted in dulcet, poetic tones, creating a harsh and fascinating blend.

Fact and fiction pair in the story of Rose Lee Carter, 13, as she copes with life in a racially divided world. It splits wide open when a 14-year-old boy from Chicago named Emmett Till goes missing. Jackson superbly blends the history into her narrative. The suffocating heat, oppression, and despair African-Americans experienced in 1955 Mississippi resonate. And the author effectively creates a protagonist with plenty of suffering all her own. Practically abandoned by her mother, Rose Lee is reviled in her own home for the darkness of her brown skin. The author ably captures the fear and dread of each day and excels when she shows the peril of blacks trying to assert their right to vote in the South, likely a foreign concept to today’s kids. Where the book fails, however, is in its overuse of descriptors and dialect and the near-sociopathic zeal of Rose Lee's grandmother Ma Pearl and her lighter-skinned cousin Queen. Ma Pearl is an emotionally remote tyrant who seems to derive glee from crushing Rose Lee's spirits. And Queen is so glib and self-centered she's almost a cartoon.

The bird’s-eye view into this pivotal moment provides a powerful story, one that adults will applaud—but between the avalanche of old-South homilies and Rose Lee’s relentlessly hopeless struggle, it may be a hard sell for younger readers. (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-78510-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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