WOUNDED KNEE

Waldman’s (The Wisdom Bird, 2000, etc.) account of the massacre at Wounded Knee is accessible to young readers, but troubling in its lack of documentation. His short narrative moves quickly through the background of the Overland Trail and the Indian “treaties,” boarding schools and the Ghost Dance religion, to the events that lead to the historic slaughter. He describes how the settlers and the government quickly decimated the Lakota’s culture (acknowledging, for instance, the systematic slaughter of the buffalo), and portrays the events at Wounded Knee as a massacre, rather than the “battle” it has been called. He makes good use of newspaper headlines and articles to convey the sentiments of the white culture at the time, but he also makes use of dialogue and dramatic setting that is unattributed (“the braves glanced nervously at one another, sensing that a bloody confrontation loomed just ahead”). At the front and end, there’s a present-tense description of the battle from Black Elk’s point of view. Also unattributed, it is a loose paraphrase from Black Elk Speaks (which Waldman does include in his bibliography), including some phrases in direct quotes, but with some curious alterations. For instance, “I painted my face all red . . . It did not take me long to get ready” (from Black Elk Speaks) becomes “He hurriedly painted his face red” (in Waldman’s text). Though Black Elk Speaks indicates “when we were charging, I just held the sacred bow out in front of me with my right hand. The bullets did not hit us at all,” Waldman says, “The riders held their bows high above their heads and charged down from the ridge, directly into the fire of the cavalry.” Combined with his impressionistic paintings, most of which are based on photographs by Edward S. Curtis and contemporaries, Waldman portrays the Lakota sympathetically, but with a romanticized tone that is inaccurate. The bibliography of six adult titles will be only moderately useful to young readers, who will need more resources to flesh out their understanding of Lakota culture and this period of history. However, there is little else available on Wounded Knee, and for careful readers, this might be a useful place to start. (bibliography, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-82559-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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The book is a cute, but rather standard offering from Avi (Tom, Babette, and Simon, p. 776, etc.).

POPPY

From the Poppy series , Vol. 3

An adolescent mouse named Poppy is off on a romantic tryst with her rebel boyfriend when they are attacked by Mr. Ocax, the owl who rules over the area.

He kills the boyfriend, but Poppy escapes and Mr. Ocax vows to catch her. Mr. Ocax has convinced all the mice that he is their protector when, in fact, he preys on them mercilessly. When the mice ask his permission to move to a new house, he refuses, blaming Poppy for his decision. Poppy suspects that there is another reason Mr. Ocax doesn't want them to move and investigates to clear her name. With the help of a prickly old porcupine and her quick wits, Poppy defeats her nemesis and her own fears, saving her family in the bargain. 

The book is a cute, but rather standard offering from Avi (Tom, Babette, and Simon, p. 776, etc.). (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-531-09483-9

Page Count: 147

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1995

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