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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Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister:...


A magnificently creepy fantasy pits a bright, bored little girl against a soul-eating horror that inhabits the reality right next door.

Coraline’s parents are loving, but really too busy to play with her, so she amuses herself by exploring her family’s new flat. A drawing-room door that opens onto a brick wall becomes a natural magnet for the curious little girl, and she is only half-surprised when, one day, the door opens onto a hallway and Coraline finds herself in a skewed mirror of her own flat, complete with skewed, button-eyed versions of her own parents. This is Gaiman’s (American Gods, 2001, etc.) first novel for children, and the author of the Sandman graphic novels here shows a sure sense of a child’s fears—and the child’s ability to overcome those fears. “I will be brave,” thinks Coraline. “No, I am brave.” When Coraline realizes that her other mother has not only stolen her real parents but has also stolen the souls of other children before her, she resolves to free her parents and to find the lost souls by matching her wits against the not-mother. The narrative hews closely to a child’s-eye perspective: Coraline never really tries to understand what has happened or to fathom the nature of the other mother; she simply focuses on getting her parents back and thwarting the other mother for good. Her ability to accept and cope with the surreality of the other flat springs from the child’s ability to accept, without question, the eccentricity and arbitrariness of her own—and every child’s own—reality. As Coraline’s quest picks up its pace, the parallel world she finds herself trapped in grows ever more monstrous, generating some deliciously eerie descriptive writing.

Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister: Coraline is spot on. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-380-97778-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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


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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