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 QUILTMAKER'S GIFT

A sentimental tale overwhelmed by busy illustrations and rampant pedantry. A gifted quiltmaker who makes outstanding quilts never sells her wares, but gives them away to the poor. A greedy king so loves presents that he has two birthdays a year, and commands everyone in the kingdom to give him gifts. Everyone brings presents till the castle overflows; the king, still unhappy, locates the quiltmaker and directs her to make him a quilt. When she refuses he tries to feed her to a hungry bear, then to leave her on a tiny island, but each time the quiltmaker’s kindness results in her rescue. At last, the king agrees to a bargain; he will give away his many things, and the quiltmaker will sew him a quilt. He is soon poor, but happier than he’s ever been, and she fulfills her end of the bargain; they remain partners forever after, with her sewing the quilts and him giving them away. The illustrations are elaborate, filled with clues to quilt names. A note points to the 250 different quilt names hidden in the picture on the inside of the book jacket. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-57025-199-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1999

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THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS EXPLORES THE SENSES

The way-off-road vehicle (The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field, 1997, etc.) tours the ears, eyes, nose, and skin when the assistant principal, Mr. Wilde, accidentally shrinks the school bus and the children on board, commandeering it to deliver a message to Ms. Frizzle. The vehicle plunges into the eye of a police officer, where the students explore the pupil, the cornea, the retina, and the optic nerve leading to the brain. Then it’s on to other senses, via the ear of a small child, the nose of a dog, and the tongue of the Friz herself. Sidebars and captions add to the blizzard of information here; with a combination of plot, details, and jokes, the trip is anything but dull. The facts will certainly entice readers to learn more about the ways living creatures perceive the world. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-44697-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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