Marcom writes unflinchingly about grotesque violence and the gritty nastiness of bodily functions, but too often lapses into...

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THREE APPLES FELL FROM HEAVEN

First novel by a northern California–based writer chronicles the terrible plight of Armenians, including her own family, during the genocide war carried out by the Turks during WWI.

Between 1915–16, about a million and a half Armenians were murdered by Turkish forces as part of a ruthless campaign of what today might be called “ethnic cleansing.” The first genocide of the 20th century, the killing of the Armenians is clearly an antecedent to both the Holocaust and the brutal doings in the former Yugoslavia, with particular resonance for students of the latter. Like the events in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia, the events in Anatolia pitted people who had once been neighbors, customers, and friends against one another in ethnic violence with a religious underpinning. Surprisingly, there has been very little fiction written about this terrible historical event. Marcom’s is the rare exception, and at its best it captures with coruscating force the intimate nature of a genocide committed by the people who used to live next to you. She has chosen an unusual structure, a tapestry of many vignettes that depict a shattered Armenian culture and way of life through the memories of victims and bystanders, those who hid, those who died, and those who tried vainly to help. Woven into this complicated structure are some recurring characters, chief among them Anaguil, a young girl who has watched her father and other men jailed and tortured; Sargis, a young would-be writer who, disguised as a woman, lives in near-total darkness in an attic. Leslie Davis, the American consul who reports truthfully on what he has seen but who still emerges as a supercilious and oversexed fool.

Marcom writes unflinchingly about grotesque violence and the gritty nastiness of bodily functions, but too often lapses into a stilted diction that is more ponderous than exotic. Still, her story has a certain brutal force that stays in the memory.

Pub Date: April 23, 2001

ISBN: 1-57322-186-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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THE COLORS OF US

This vibrant, thoughtful book from Katz (Over the Moon, 1997) continues her tribute to her adopted daughter, Lena, born in Guatemala. Lena is “seven. I am the color of cinnamon. Mom says she could eat me up”; she learns during a painting lesson that to get the color brown, she will have to “mix red, yellow, black, and white paints.” They go for a walk to observe the many shades of brown: they see Sonia, who is the color of creamy peanut butter; Isabella, who is chocolate brown; Lucy, both peachy and tan; Jo-Jin, the color of honey; Kyle, “like leaves in fall”; Mr. Pellegrino, the color of pizza crust, golden brown. Lena realizes that every shade is beautiful, then mixes her paints accordingly for portraits of her friends—“The colors of us!” Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5864-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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LAUGH-ETERIA

Florian’s seventh collection of verse is also his most uneven; though the flair for clever rhyme that consistently lights up his other books, beginning with Monster Motel (1993), occasionally shows itself—“Hello, my name is Dracula/My clothing is all blackula./I drive a Cadillacula./I am a maniacula”—too many of the entries are routine limericks, putdowns, character portraits, rhymed lists that fall flat on the ear, or quick quips: “It’s hard to be anonymous/When you’re a hippopotamus.” Florian’s language and simple, thick-lined cartoons illustrations are equally ingenuous, and he sticks to tried-and-true subjects, from dinosaurs to school lunch, but the well of inspiration seems dry; revisit his hilarious Bing Bang Boing (1994) instead. (index) (Poetry. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202084-5

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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