SILVERWING

A small bat's curiosity touches off a war of extermination against all his kind in this action-packed odyssey from the author of Dead Water Zone (1993). In satisfying his desire to catch just a glimpse of the sun, young Shade defies a punishment imposed millions of years before when bats refused to fight in the Great War Between the Birds and the Beasts. In swift retribution, owls burn the ancient nursery of the silverwing bats, forcing them to depart early for Hibernaculum, their winter roost. A sudden storm blows Shade away from the flock; in the chase to catch up, he meets Marina, a faithful companion of another bat species; acquires a nemesis in Goth, a huge, seemingly indestructible tropical bat with cannibalistic tendencies; escapes capture above ground and below; encounters a host of allies and enemies; and finds several mysteries to pursue—why other animals are so ready to wipe the bats out, what the silver bands humans give some bats portend, and especially what became of his banded father. Replete with appealing characters, scary adversaries, bat lore, natural history, unanswered questions, and conflicting theologies, the story takes on a promising epic sweep; readers will look forward to the sequels that Oppel's ending guarantees. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-689-81529-8

Page Count: 217

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

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JOEY PIGZA SWALLOWED THE KEY

From the Joey Pigza series , Vol. 1

If Rotten Ralph were a boy instead of a cat, he might be Joey, the hyperactive hero of Gantos's new book, except that Joey is never bad on purpose. In the first-person narration, it quickly becomes clear that he can't help himself; he's so wound up that he not only practically bounces off walls, he literally swallows his house key (which he wears on a string around his neck and which he pull back up, complete with souvenirs of the food he just ate). Gantos's straightforward view of what it's like to be Joey is so honest it hurts. Joey has been abandoned by his alcoholic father and, for a time, by his mother (who also drinks); his grandmother, just as hyperactive as he is, abuses Joey while he's in her care. One mishap after another leads Joey first from his regular classroom to special education classes and then to a special education school. With medication, counseling, and positive reinforcement, Joey calms down. Despite a lighthearted title and jacket painting, the story is simultaneously comic and horrific; Gantos takes readers right inside a human whirlwind where the ride is bumpy and often frightening, especially for Joey. But a river of compassion for the characters runs through the pages, not only for Joey but for his overextended mom and his usually patient, always worried (if only for their safety) teachers. Mature readers will find this harsh tale softened by unusual empathy and leavened by genuinely funny events. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-374-33664-4

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

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BRIAN'S RETURN

Paulsen brings the story he began in Hatchet (1987) and continued in the alternate sequels The River (1991) and Brian’s Winter (1996) around to a sometimes-mystical close. Surviving the media coverage and the unwanted attention of other high school students has become more onerous to Brian than his experiences in the wild; realizing that the wilderness has become larger within him than the need to be with people, Brian methodically gathers survival equipment—listed in detail—then leaves his old life behind. It takes some time, plus a brutal fight and sessions with a savvy counselor, before Brian reaches that realization, but once out under the trees, it’s obvious that his attachment to the wild is a permanent one. Becoming ever more attuned to the natural wonders around him, he travels over a succession of lakes and streams, pausing to make camp, howl with a wolf, read Shakespeare to a pair of attentive otters and, once, to share a meal with an old man who talks about animal guides and leaves a medicine bundle for him. Readers hoping for the high adventure of the previous books may be disappointed, as Brian is now so skilled that a tipped canoe or a wild storm are only inconveniences, and even bears more hazard than threat; still, Paulsen bases many of his protagonist’s experiences on his own, and the wilderness through which Brian moves is vividly observed. Afterword. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-385-32500-2

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1998

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