PAPER BIRD by Maretha Maartens


Age Range: 11 - 14
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 Not villains but victims people this novel, originally published in Afrikaans and here in a second English translation. After his father's death in a farm accident, young Adam and of his family have been forced to move into a friend's already- crowded shack in Phameng. Their only source of income is Adam's job of selling newspapers; word has come that the houses of those caught leaving the townships to work in the city will be burned. Food runs low; Adam's mother gives birth to twins. Twins! How can they be clothed and fed? Desperate, Adam resolves to brave the terrorist threat for a weekend. Feverish after a night spent in the open, he receives some unexpected help selling his papers, then runs the gauntlet again to get home. Maartens takes readers into a world of grinding poverty charged with fear and anger, yet her touch is light. Violence stays offstage while Adam's heroism, the kindness of his two (white) fellow workers, and his affection for his family shine through, lit by a weak flicker of hope: ``Not everybody wants to burn and kill. There are lots of good people. Lots.'' (Fiction. 11-14)*justify no*

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1991
ISBN: 0-395-56490-5
Page count: 148pp
Publisher: Clarion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1991