PIRACY AND PLUNDER

A MURDEROUS BUSINESS

Pirates have a romantic image that Meltzer (Case Closed, p. 1130, etc.) effectively undermines in this history of piracy in which he emphasizes the violence and callousness of pirates throughout the ages. Following the practice chronologically, from Homer to modern piracy of items like videos and music CDs, he recounts stories about famous pirates like Sir Francis Drake and Blackbeard, and devotes several pages to females. A section falling halfway through discusses who became pirates and why, everyday life on shipboard, and punishment of pirates by marooning them. One fascinating topic is the pirates’ codes of conduct, with one from the early-18th century reprinted in full. The numbered list explains that each man has an equal vote and a fair share of goods, lays out the punishment for desertion and the exact means for settling disputes, and more. Even with such direct quotations, though, Meltzer gives no citations. A selected bibliography provides the only documentation, a serious drawback in a work of nonfiction. The 96 pages are arranged in short sections of a page or two, each under a heading, rather than in longer chapters that might help readers organize the material in their minds. The very last section returns to the issue of romanticizing pirates with a brief look at books and movies that do so and then coming to a surprisingly abrupt close. (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-525-45857-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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JOEY PIGZA SWALLOWED THE KEY

From the Joey Pigza series , Vol. 1

If Rotten Ralph were a boy instead of a cat, he might be Joey, the hyperactive hero of Gantos's new book, except that Joey is never bad on purpose. In the first-person narration, it quickly becomes clear that he can't help himself; he's so wound up that he not only practically bounces off walls, he literally swallows his house key (which he wears on a string around his neck and which he pull back up, complete with souvenirs of the food he just ate). Gantos's straightforward view of what it's like to be Joey is so honest it hurts. Joey has been abandoned by his alcoholic father and, for a time, by his mother (who also drinks); his grandmother, just as hyperactive as he is, abuses Joey while he's in her care. One mishap after another leads Joey first from his regular classroom to special education classes and then to a special education school. With medication, counseling, and positive reinforcement, Joey calms down. Despite a lighthearted title and jacket painting, the story is simultaneously comic and horrific; Gantos takes readers right inside a human whirlwind where the ride is bumpy and often frightening, especially for Joey. But a river of compassion for the characters runs through the pages, not only for Joey but for his overextended mom and his usually patient, always worried (if only for their safety) teachers. Mature readers will find this harsh tale softened by unusual empathy and leavened by genuinely funny events. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-374-33664-4

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

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DANIEL'S STORY

After witnessing the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany, Daniel is suddenly transported, at age 14, from his comfortable life in Frankfurt to a Polish ghetto, then to Auschwitz and Buchenwald—losing most of his family along the way, seeing Nazi brutality of both the casual and the calculated kind, and recording atrocities with a smuggled camera (``What has happened to me?...Who am I? Where am I going?''). Matas, explicating an exhibit of photos and other materials at the new United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, creates a convincing composite youth and experience—fictional but carefully based on survivors' accounts. It's a savage story with no attempt to soften the culpability of the German people; Daniel's profound anger is easier to understand than is his father's compassion or his sister's plea to ``chose love. Always choose love.'' Daniel survives to be reunited, after the war, with his wife-to-be, but his dying friend's last word echoes beyond the happy ending: ``Remember...'' An unusual undertaking, effectively carried out. Chronology; glossary. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-590-46920-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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