THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY MALONE

Molly, 16, is a true original: she sells collages fashioned from pieces of junk that she's juxtaposed to convey a liberal social message; she also goes regularly to a welfare hotel, where she gives the kids art materials and teaches their use with easy camaraderie. The money she makes at her stall in front of New York's Metropolitan Museum comes in handy, but—unlike her mother, a cocktail singer turned piano teacher—Molly's principles make her averse to the idea of a rich boyfriend. Ron, whom she believes to be the son of the housekeeper to the wealthy Spratts, is more her style; in an idyllic getting-acquainted period, the two share likes and opinions on art, politics, the environment, etc., at a rate that may daunt some readers but that isn't unrealistic from intelligent Molly and a Harvard junior. When Molly discovers that Ron is really a Spratt, she's predictably furious; sensibly, Anderson concludes with a partial reconciliation combined with enforced separation: Ron's off to study architecture at the Sorbonne. Along with some suspense about Ron's identity, the story is kept moving through a series of lively scenes, especially with the kids; a classy museum party is also wittily evoked. Some details, like the fearlessness of Molly's midnight search for an orphaned boy in Times Square, are less than plausible, and minor characters are lightly sketched; but Molly herself is vibrant and determined, her story a better-than-average anti-romance. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-15-213801-3

Page Count: 202

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1991

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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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Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun.

STARSIGHT

From the Skyward series , Vol. 2

As if the threat of huge, raging monsters from hyperspace isn’t scary enough, hotshot fighter pilot Spensa Nightshade becomes embroiled in an alien empire’s politics.

On a desperate mission to steal hyperdrive technology from the crablike invading Krell who are threatening to destroy her beleaguered home colony on Detritus, Spensa, who is white, holographically disguises herself as a violet-skinned UrDail and slips into a Krell pilot training program for “lesser species.” The discovery that she’s being secretly trained not to fight planet-destroying delvers but to exterminate humans, who are (with some justification, having kindled three interstellar wars in past centuries) regarded in certain quarters as an irrationally aggressive species, is just one in a string of revelations as, in between numerous near-death experiences on practice flights, she struggles to understand both her own eerie abilities and the strange multispecies society in which she finds herself. There are so many characters besides Spensa searching for self-identity—notably her comic-relief sidekick AI M-Bot, troubled human friend Jorgen back on Detritus, and Morriumur, member of a species whose color-marked sexes create trial offspring—that even with a plot that defaults to hot action and escalating intrigue the pacing has a stop and start quality. Still, Spensa’s habitual over-the-top recklessness adds a rousing spark, and the author folds in plenty of banter as well as a colorful supporting cast.

Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55581-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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