D, MY NAME IS DANITA

Like earlier protagonists of this alphabetical series, eighth-grader Danita learns something about a parent that forever alters her family's balance. First it's mysterious phone calls; then Danita keeps noticing the same red-sneakered 19-year-old, in too many situations to be coincidence. Even moderately astute readers will enjoy realizing long before Danita does that ``D.T.'' is her half-brother: born as the result of a high-school romance, Dad has never known of the boy's existence. The drama of a nice youth hoping to find a father but encountering a cold reception from an otherwise affectionate family man who simply freezes because he has no idea how to respond is sketched lightly here; the focus is on narrator Danita, who is the first approached by her brother, and who intervenes on his behalf—and, fleshing out the story, on her contrasting concerns with boys and a best friend. In a refreshing denouement, it's Mom (the last to know: Dad doesn't trust her reaction) who points out that D.T. should get a real welcome. No melodrama here; just another of Mazer's unique, believable families, coping despite their particular frailties. Again, light but nourishing, with plenty of reader appeal. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-590-43655-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1991

THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point.

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin.

The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyne’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice.

Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

ASK ME NO QUESTIONS

Illegal immigrant sisters learn a lot about themselves when their family faces deportation in this compelling contemporary drama. Immigrants from Bangladesh, Nadira, her older sister Aisha and their parents live in New York City with expired visas. Fourteen-year-old Nadira describes herself as “the slow-wit second-born” who follows Aisha, the family star who’s on track for class valedictorian and a top-rate college. Everything changes when post-9/11 government crack-downs on Muslim immigrants push the family to seek asylum in Canada where they are turned away at the border and their father is arrested by U.S. immigration. The sisters return to New York living in constant fear of detection and trying to pretend everything is normal. As months pass, Aisha falls apart while Nadira uses her head in “a right way” to save her father and her family. Nadira’s need for acceptance by her family neatly parallels the family’s desire for acceptance in their adopted country. A perceptive peek into the lives of foreigners on the fringe. (endnote) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-4169-0351-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Ginee Seo/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2005

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