A TASTE FOR RABBIT

This uneven allegory will have a difficult time finding an audience. Two societies of polytheistic, sentient, clothed adult animals are suffering the effects of a harsh winter. Quentin is a scholarly rabbit who lives under stringent military laws. Families of rabbits are disappearing, and he and his friends believe the government may be behind it. Harry, a fox, is living in poverty until his rich, cruel younger brother Isaac makes him an offer: If Harry can find out why Isaac’s scouts are not returning from their missions to the fortress protecting the rabbit warren, Isaac will pay him generously. Along the way, Quentin and Harry both learn the truth behind the other’s deeply corrupt yet intelligent world. In their travels, Harry and Quentin are both helped in their search for the truth by neutral animals like badgers and raccoons, but although their stories intertwine, they only briefly converge. Disguising human nature behind animals works in picture books, but the tween and teen target audience of this book will probably not want to read a book about talking animals, especially talking animals who are parents and business owners rather than teens. The frustrating lack of closure begs for a sequel. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-439-86977-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

ASK ME NO QUESTIONS

Illegal immigrant sisters learn a lot about themselves when their family faces deportation in this compelling contemporary drama. Immigrants from Bangladesh, Nadira, her older sister Aisha and their parents live in New York City with expired visas. Fourteen-year-old Nadira describes herself as “the slow-wit second-born” who follows Aisha, the family star who’s on track for class valedictorian and a top-rate college. Everything changes when post-9/11 government crack-downs on Muslim immigrants push the family to seek asylum in Canada where they are turned away at the border and their father is arrested by U.S. immigration. The sisters return to New York living in constant fear of detection and trying to pretend everything is normal. As months pass, Aisha falls apart while Nadira uses her head in “a right way” to save her father and her family. Nadira’s need for acceptance by her family neatly parallels the family’s desire for acceptance in their adopted country. A perceptive peek into the lives of foreigners on the fringe. (endnote) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-4169-0351-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Ginee Seo/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2005

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