SHENANDOAH

DAUGHTER OF THE STARS

In this book for young readers, three children grow up in a hurry as the U.S. Civil War rages.
Hannah, 13, lives on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. She, her younger brother, Willy, and their friend Charlie, who is sweet on Hannah, have always spent their time helping on their farms and playing cards with Crazy, a hermit who lives in a nearby cave. But it’s the middle of the Civil War, the effects of which everyone is feeling. Charlie’s older brother died at Gettysburg, his father is an invalid thanks to war wounds, and Charlie is a cadet at the Virginia Military Institute, yearning to get into the fight. Now, the Yankee Army is moving through Virginia, burning farms as they go, and though Hannah’s family is against slavery, they know the federal troops will not spare their farm. Hannah finds herself left behind with her parents as Willy joins Mosby’s raiders and Charlie and his fellow cadets are conscripted into the Confederate army under Gen. John Breckinridge. Hannah’s formerly idyllic country childhood is shattered, and now her courage and ability to survive are tested as the ravages of war arrive on her doorstep. In this, her third book for young people about the Civil War, author Johnson shows war from an adolescent’s point of view. The emotional development comes through for engaging and believable characters as they experience not just war, but also the normal changes that children experience during their teenage years. The writing flows well, with enough detail to be informative without seeming didactic. There’s one minor bump, however, when Willy runs off, with no mention of whether his parents were worried, which seems odd. But overall, the story is a convincing one, presenting the realities of a war zone well, though with a light touch appropriate for a young audience.

A well-told story of coming of age in war-torn Virginia.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0989435642

Page Count: 146

Publisher: eFrog Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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