In his first novel for young readers, Booth (Dreaming of Samarkand, 1990, etc.) introduces Jet, a black Labrador hero in the tradition of Rin Tin Tin. After Jet's owner is jailed for poaching game, the dog is enlisted in the British Armed Forces. This isn't as crazy as it sounds; the preface reminds readers that many animals have been requisitioned in times of war. World War II is brewing in Europe and Jet proves to be the perfect military trainee. She is sent to combat with her new ``handler'' in France, where her duties include sniffing out the enemy and the wounded. When Jet herself is wounded, she serves her country in a different capacity by searching out people buried in rubble in a bomb-torn city. Soon, she's needed back in the front lines, where she is miraculously reunited with her original owner. Military buffs will relish the war details: This book has the feel of the black-and-white movies of the 1940s. All readers will be stirred by the heroic canine's adventures. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-689-81380-5

Page Count: 133

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1997

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Fluid prose elucidates a life much stranger than fiction.


MacColl's second novel brings to life the childhood of future aviator and writer Beryl Markham (Prisoners in the Palace, 2010).

Born Beryl Clutterbuck, she moved with her family to the highlands of Kenya as a toddler. Not long after, her mother and brother returned to England, abandoning her with her rough though loving father. MacColl's account begins when a leopard steals into Beryl's hut and attacks her dog—the child leaping from her bed to give chase. Though she loses the leopard in the night, the next morning, she and her new friend, a Nandi boy, Kibii, find the dog still alive and save it. Later she insists on being part of the hunt for the leopard. Young Beryl wants nothing more than to be a warrior, a murani, and to be able to leap higher than her own head. Her jumping skills progress apace, but young white girls, no matter how determined, cannot become part of the Nandi tribe. Her relationship with Kibii's father, the wise Arap Maina, along with a growing awareness of the consequences of her actions, help lead her into a more mature—though still wildly impulsive and daring—life. MacColl intersperses her third-person narrative with faux news reports and first-person diary entries of two decades later, when Beryl Markham became the first person—let alone woman—to fly a plane west from Europe to America.

Fluid prose elucidates a life much stranger than fiction. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7625-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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Stenhouse continues his story begun in Across the Steel River (not reviewed) with another mystery laced with tones of racial bias and starring the same two boys, Will, who’s white, and Arthur, a Blackfoot Indian. The title holds double meaning: “deed,” as in an action, in this case one against decency, justice, and the Indian people of a small Canadian town on Alberta’s prairies. The other meaning, a title to land ownership, here refers to that deeded to an Indian during WWI by the most powerful, cruel, and unjust white man in town, “old man Howe.” Now, during the Korean War in 1952, Howe will stop at nothing to retrieve the document that has passed to other generations of the original deed-holder’s family. Told in the first person, the adventure-mystery speeds along as the town, its inhabitants, its setting, and history are revealed. Howe controls the Mounties, the town’s business, and a gang of thugs who do his bidding, often cruel and physically destructive to those who oppose him. The too-large cast weaves in and out of Will’s narrative and relationships become hazy. Throughout, Will and Arthur meet with near-escapes, but there are so many cliffhangers that it stretches reader credulity. The latter is especially so, given the uncertain duration of the endless action, which may cover only a few days and nights. A good many unexplained incidents also occur and may leave a reader unclear about them as real experiences or as mere figments of Will’s dreams. Despite a very active plot that portrays the degradation of Canada’s first People, Stenhouse tries to do too much and, as a result, fails. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-55337-360-X

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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