A sorrowful yet ultimately redeeming tale.

HALF A MAN

A grandson’s loving homage to his war-scarred grandfather.

Michael has been told to never stare at his grandfather when he comes for rare visits. During World War II, Grandpa served on a British merchant vessel that was torpedoed and engulfed in flames, leaving his face a grotesque mask. When Michael turns 12, he starts spending summers with Grandpa, fishing off the Isles of Scilly. It is only when Michael is older, a high school graduate, that the grandfather recounts what happened in all its horrific detail. Facially disfigured, missing fingers and turning to drink, he was abandoned by his wife, who took their daughter, the narrator’s mother, with her. “No one wants a monster for a husband. No one wants half a man….” At his death, he leaves a note for his grandson asking that the family gather together to scatter his ashes in the sea. They do, and gannets, a sign of good luck, fly overhead. Morpurgo writes with great sensitivity and grace, dedicating the book to a World War II burn victim who underwent experimental reconstructive surgery. The ink-and–screen-printed illustrations in blues and oranges vividly contrast the violence of the recalled violence with the calm serenity of water. Veterans are still returning from war with scars and trauma; this short story may help families heal.

A sorrowful yet ultimately redeeming tale. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7747-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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THE LIGHTNING THIEF

From the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series , Vol. 1

Edgar Award–winning Riordan leaves the adult world of mystery to begin a fantasy series for younger readers. Twelve-year-old Percy (full name, Perseus) Jackson has attended six schools in six years. Officially diagnosed with ADHD, his lack of self-control gets him in trouble again and again. What if it isn’t his fault? What if all the outrageous incidents that get him kicked out of school are the result of his being a “half-blood,” the product of a relationship between a human and a Greek god? Could it be true that his math teacher Mrs. Dodds transformed into a shriveled hag with bat wings, a Fury, and was trying to kill him? Did he really vanquish her with a pen that turned into a sword? One need not be an expert in Greek mythology to enjoy Percy’s journey to retrieve Zeus’s master bolt from the Underworld, but those who are familiar with the deities and demi-gods will have many an ah-ha moment. Along the way, Percy and his cohort run into Medusa, Cerberus and Pan, among others. The sardonic tone of the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7868-5629-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch.

RESISTANCE

A Jewish girl joins up with Polish resistance groups to fight for her people against the evils of the Holocaust.

Chaya Lindner is forcibly separated from her family when they are consigned to the Jewish ghetto in Krakow. The 16-year-old is taken in by the leaders of Akiva, a fledgling Jewish resistance group that offers her the opportunity to become a courier, using her fair coloring to pass for Polish and sneak into ghettos to smuggle in supplies and information. Chaya’s missions quickly become more dangerous, taking her on a perilous journey from a disastrous mission in Krakow to the ghastly ghetto of Lodz and eventually to Warsaw to aid the Jews there in their gathering uprising inside the walls of the ghetto. Through it all, she is partnered with a secretive young girl whom she is reluctant to trust. The trajectory of the narrative skews toward the sensational, highlighting moments of resistance via cinematic action sequences but not pausing to linger on the emotional toll of the Holocaust’s atrocities. Younger readers without sufficient historical knowledge may not appreciate the gravity of the events depicted. The principal characters lack depth, and their actions and the situations they find themselves in often require too much suspension of disbelief to pass for realism.

Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-14847-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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