MARKUS AND THE GIRLS

In this entertaining Norwegian import and follow-up to Markus and Diana (2006), the short, anxious and potentially obsessive-compulsive Markus Simonsen, 13, finds himself only two months into his first year of junior high and in love for the 15th time. Unable to find the gumption to act on his feelings, the teen once again relies on his overconfident sidekick, Sigmund. His best friend’s help always turns to hijinks, however, especially when he proposes a staging of Romeo and Juliet to win over Markus’s latest object of desire. Adding to the merriment are Markus’s widower father, who has similar love-interest problems, and a father-son relationship that is both droll and tender. Although Sigmund’s last effort is dragged out too long, the Shakespearean backdrop and comedic banter and timing reveal Hagerup’s dramatist background. While the foreign titles and authors mentioned will be unfamiliar to most readers, Chace’s otherwise seamless translation aptly conveys the typical angst of young teenage boys and leaves readers cheering for Markus and the next girl of his dreams. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59078-520-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Front Street/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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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 Boyle’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

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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