A rousing seafaring adventure about a brave girl—based, alas, on unacknowledged erasure.

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THE GIRL WHO SAILED THE STARS

A girl in the far north wants to go still farther north.

Ten-year-old Oona lives in the village of Nordlor, which sits beside a fjord that stretches to the Great Northern Sea. She wants to be a ship’s captain like her father; she wants to catch whales and see the magical creatures called nardoos that might live in the northern ocean. However, Nordlor girls and women aren’t allowed on ships at all—they’re not even taught to read. Moreover, Oona’s own family hates her. Using elements familiar from Western fairy tales (Oona’s the seventh child, the youngest, the hated one, the only pretty one) and tall tales (cats who play fiddles and go down with their ship; houses that retain characteristics of the ship whose wood they’re built from), Woods gives stowaway Oona the freezing ocean adventure of her dreams, including celestial navigation and an unexpected (and unexplained) connection between nardoos and the northern lights. Allepuz decorates the adventure with nautical sketches in the margins and some appealingly gruff full-page drawings. Unfortunately, a settler/colonialist premise underlies everything: Nordlor is in the “wild…north,” named for a “great explorer,” and explicitly “settled” by an entirely white population; indigenous people don’t seem to exist or have ever existed, while white people use whale blubber (which they also eat), seal skin, and fox fur.

A rousing seafaring adventure about a brave girl—based, alas, on unacknowledged erasure. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51524-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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Both cozy and inspiring, this eco-fable conveys both grim truths and a defiant call to action.

THE SILVER ARROW

The best birthday present is a magical train full of talking animals—and a new job.

On Kate’s 11th birthday, she’s surprised by the arrival of rich Uncle Herbert. Uncle Herbert bears a gift: a train. Not a toy train, a 102.36-ton steam engine, with cars that come later. When Kate and her brother, Tom, both white, play in the cab of the Silver Arrow, the train starts up, zooming to a platform packed with animals holding tickets. Thus begins Kate and Tom’s hard work: They learn to conduct the train and feed the fire box, instructed by the Silver Arrow, which speaks via printed paper tape. The Silver Arrow is a glorious playground: The library car is chockablock with books while the candy car is brimful of gobstoppers and gummy bears. But amid the excitement of whistle-blowing and train conducting, Kate and Tom learn quiet messages from their animal friends. Some species, like gray squirrels and starlings, are “invaders.” The too-thin polar bear’s train platform has melted, leaving it almost drowned. Their new calling is more than just feeding the coal box—they need to find a new balance in a damaged world. “Feeling guilty doesn’t help anything,” the mamba tells them. Humans have survived so effectively they’ve taken over the world; now, he says, “you just have to take care of it.” (Illustrations not seen.)

Both cozy and inspiring, this eco-fable conveys both grim truths and a defiant call to action. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53953-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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