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BLACK JUICE by Margo Lanagan

BLACK JUICE

By Margo Lanagan

Age Range: 12 - 15

Pub Date: March 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-06-074390-5
Publisher: HarperCollins

These ten new tales from Down Under take readers to worlds like, yet tantalizingly unlike, their own. Two assassins target professional clowns in “Red Nose Day,” a child learns who the real spiritual leader of his isolated ashram is only after he leaves and comes back, a dutiful granddaughter risks her life to attend an outdoor funeral in a toxic future. Several stories feature nonhumans, from toothy “Yowlinin” that burst catastrophically from the ground, to miracle-working but utterly repulsive angels (“Earthly Uses”) and, in a tour de force exercise in narrative voice, a herd of trained elephants that sets out to rescue its beloved mahout, “Sweet Pippit.” Though the first story, in which a child describes “Singing My Sister Down,” as she sinks with agonizing slowness into a tar pit as punishment for killing her husband, is compelling enough to threaten to overshadow the rest, there are no weak entries here and memorable characters a-plenty. (Short stories. 12-15)