The strength of the poetry along with this assumption that religion and a relationship with God are an integral part of life...

DARK SONS

Grimes contrasts the Biblical story of Abraham’s son Ishmael with present day Samuel’s trying to cope with divorce and his father’s remarriage.

Conveyed almost entirely in prose poems, the work gives deeper meaning to both stories. A few quotes from Hammurabi’s Code, which preface some sections, provide needed context. Both sons focus first on their mothers. Ishmael’s mother is a slave, and the jealousy of Abraham’s wife makes their life difficult. The arrival of Isaac, the natural son in ancient times and of David, a biracial child in the present, gives a clear picture of the universality over time of sons wanting to be first in their father’s lives regardless of circumstances, as well as the charm of new babies. Grimes allows Samuel to find some peace, ably assisted by both of the women in his family, but Ishmael and his mother head into the desert, leaving Abraham behind completely. Three major religions derive from Abraham’s seed, giving this impact for many people of faith.

The strength of the poetry along with this assumption that religion and a relationship with God are an integral part of life distinguishes and illuminates the narrative. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7868-1888-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2005

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An engaging, compelling tale whose relatable young hero’s adventures link to a nation’s destiny.

ROUGH RIDE TO RUNNYMEDE

ON A QUEST TO STOP A BULLY

In this debut middle-grade historical novel, a boy works to bring Magna Carta to reality in 13th-century England.

At harvest time in 1214, Taymor “Tay” Wallop, 14, is in a tough position. He’s inherited Swan Castle from his father, but the greedy King John is demanding an unaffordable inheritance tax and commandeering the stronghold’s harvest and farm animals. When Tay protests the unfairness of this, John gives him an out: get rid of the archbishop of Canterbury, who has offended the monarch by telling the country’s earls that the king must obey the law. As the brown son of a Syrian mother, Tay has already experienced discrimination, and fairness matters greatly to him. But if he doesn’t obey, the king will kill his father’s man at arms, Will, and Tay will lose Swan Castle. Early on his journey, Tay meets Archer, about 19, a talented bowman with a secret who’s been led by a dream to help the teen. Tay is impressed by the archbishop’s saintliness and can’t bear to kill him. Instead, the archbishop inspires Tay to embark on a mission to persuade the earls to support a new charter of fair play. Soon joined by Lucy, 12, who’s running from a forced marriage, Tay and Archer travel the country, hoping against hope to succeed. Though beset by dangers, Tay’s faith brings him—and the country’s leaders—to Runnymede for the historic sealing of Magna Carta. Useful information on history, places, and people plus a glossary are included. In her novel, Glass tells an exciting story of brave deeds and the transformation of a government, backed up by historical and cultural details that bring this long-ago world to life. The characters are well drawn, and it’s especially nice to see a person of color in a time period too often imagined as solely white. While Tay’s experience is bolstered by prayer, nonreligious readers can still respond to the universal appeal of fairness and cheer for those who risked all to bring it about.

An engaging, compelling tale whose relatable young hero’s adventures link to a nation’s destiny.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-973671-32-9

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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THREE WISE WOMEN

Three Wise Women (32 pp.; $16.99; Oct.; 0-8037-2466-7) This uninspired retelling of the gifts of the magi adds little to the original version. Three women from very different cultures share a journey to the birthplace of Jesus. Arriving at the manger, each woman offers a gift from her heart that represents something unique to her and that will become meaningful in the life of the child as he grows to manhood. Deep blues, glowing reds, and rich purples spill over the spreads, lending visual depth to an otherwise disappointingly shallow story. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2466-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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