An urgent, timely narrative.

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CROSSING THE FARAK RIVER

When helicopters of the Sit Tat, Myanmar’s army, arrive in their northern Rakhine province town, 14-year-old Hasina fears for her family and their Rohingya Muslim community.

State broadcasts depict the Rohingya as “Chittagonian Bengali Muslims,” foreign terrorists, and attempt to pit Buddhist and Muslim neighbors against one another. When the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army clashes with the Sit Tat, the latter immediately retaliates with violence, burning Rohingya homes. Hasina, her 6-year-old brother, and her 13-year-old cousin, flee into the forest, her father charging Hasina to keep them all safe and promising to come for them. But after days in the forest avoiding soldiers, the children make their way back only to find the adults gone, possibly rounded up. As Hasina desperately seeks to learn where the adults have been taken or if they are even alive, she must also figure out how the children can survive and stay safe even as people try to exploit them—or worse. In this novel, Burmese Australian author Aung Thin introduces young readers to the plight of the Rohingya, alluding to the horrors and violence of targeted persecution while also addressing how decades of authoritarian and military rule have affected the entirety of the country. An abrupt ending jars readers but emphasizes that for children in conflict zones, safety is elusive. Characters are Rohingya, Mro, and Burmese; Islamic terms are localized to both Rohingya language and context.

An urgent, timely narrative. (author’s note, timeline, glossary, resources) (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-397-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity.

FUTUREDAZE

AN ANTHOLOGY OF YA SCIENCE FICTION

A low-wattage collection of original stories and poems, as unmemorable as it is unappealingly titled.

The collection was inspired by a perceived paucity of short science fiction for teen readers, and its production costs were covered by a Kickstarter campaign. The editors gather a dozen poems and 21 stories from a stable of contributors who, after headliners Jack McDevitt and Nancy Holder, will be largely unknown even to widely read fans of the genre. The tales place their characters aboard spacecraft or space stations, on other worlds or in future dystopias, but only rarely do the writers capture a credibly adolescent voice or sensibility. Standouts in this department are the Heinlein-esque “The Stars Beneath Our Feet,” by Stephen D. Covey & Sandra McDonald, about a first date/joyride in space gone wrong, and Camille Alexa’s portrait of a teen traumatized by a cyberspace assault (“Over It”). Along with a few attempts to craft futuristic slang, only Lavie Tidhar’s fragmentary tale of Tel Aviv invaded by successive waves of aliens, doppelgangers, zombies and carnivorous plants (“The Myriad Dangers”) effectively lightens the overall earnest tone. Aside from fictional aliens and modified humans, occasional references to dark skin (“Out of the Silent Sea,” Dale Lucas) are the only signs of ethnic diversity. Most of the free-verse poetry makes only oblique, at best, references to science-fictional themes.

A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity. (author bios) (Science fiction/short stories. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9847824-0-8

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Underwords

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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What do flowers remember? The stories of the people who cared for them, of course, as Wiersbitzky’s sensitive novel...

WHAT FLOWERS REMEMBER

Thanks to her love of flowers, Delia has become a sort of apprentice to talented gardener Old Red and is devastated when he begins to show signs of encroaching dementia.

With all of the confidence of youth, she holds in her heart the belief that perhaps with her help—and that of all his loving neighbors—she can preserve his memories by collecting favorite stories about the beloved man. As she moves through the months, she records (in a rather mature first-person) both the tasks she completes in the garden as well as the stories she collects about him, also describing Red’s tragically inexorable decline. Delia’s surrounded by loving adults, and she shares her grief with best friend Mae and new love interest Tommy, as well as receiving support from members of her church; with these relationships, this warm effort neatly captures the strength of a close-knit community and the tight bonds that can form between the very old and the young. The 13-year-old’s often lyrical prose is attractive, even though it sometimes strays toward a more adult-sounding voice. Her frustration, fear and sense of loss will be readily recognizable to others who have experienced dementia in a loved one, and her story may provide some guidance on how to move down that rocky path toward acceptance and letting go.

What do flowers remember? The stories of the people who cared for them, of course, as Wiersbitzky’s sensitive novel compassionately conveys. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60898-166-3

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Namelos

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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