Despite relentless English and German anti-war rumination, and Joey's own supra-equine understandings: some distinct...

WAR HORSE

In effect, a horse's eye view of the First World War—heart-rending in Black Beauty tradition, anti-war like All Quiet..., certainly unusual and dramatic.

The spirited young stallion is purchased by a Devon farmer, vicious when drunk, to thwart a despised neighbor; he is protected, however, by the farmer's gentle young son Albert, then 13, who names him Joey (to rhyme with old farm horse Zoey), tends him fondly, and trains him—"inside a week," after a paternal threat—to pull a plow. ("For [Zoey's] sake and for my own sake, for Albert's, too, I leaned my weight into my collar and began to pull.") Rumbles of war, then the reality: Joey is sold to the British cavalry, distraught Albert is turned away as too young, Joey acquires a new protector in Captain Nicholls and a new friend in majestic Topthorn. Following Captain Nicholls' death Joey and Topthorn are the sole horse survivors of what will be the war's last cavalry charge—clearly insane in the face of machine guns and barbed wire. Now German "prisoners," they are first utilized to pull ambulance wagons (under the reluctant aegis of a German aristocrat-horselover); then, happily, put to farm work by an elderly Frenchman and his lovable granddaughter Emilie; then recalled, to haul guns, by other, sterner Germans. (Says insightful Joey: "It was not that they were cruel men, but just that they seemed driven now by a fearful compulsion....") Staunch Topthorn dies, and Joey finds himself alone in No Man's Land, approached by a single Briton and a single German...who toss a coin—which comes up heads for the Briton. At the veterinary hospital, he is reunited (surprise) with Albert; then, saved by an all-hands effort from tetanus. But, incredibly, worse is still to come: at war's end, the war-veteran horses are auctioned off, and Albert and his buddies are almost outbid for Joey by the local butcher...when little Emilie's old farmer-grandfather steps in...not to rescue Joey for her but to present Joey to Albert in her memory. (That sentimental nadir is followed, fortunately, by brief word that Albert's soon-to-be-wife "never did take to me, nor I to her.")

Despite relentless English and German anti-war rumination, and Joey's own supra-equine understandings: some distinct glimpses of how it was to be a war-horse—in addition to that thundering melodrama. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 978-0-439-79663-7

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in...

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NEW KID

From the New Kid series , Vol. 1

Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.

He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan’s a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.

An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

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GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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