THE DREAMER

Ryan’s fictional evocation of the boy who would become Pablo Neruda is rich, resonant and enchanting. Simple adventures reveal young Neftalí’s painful shyness and spirited determination, his stepmother’s love and his siblings’ affection and his longing for connection with his formidable, disapproving father. The narrative captures as well rain falling in Temuco, the Chilean town where he was raised, and his first encounters with the forest and the ocean. Childhood moments, gracefully re-created, offer a glimpse of a poet-to-be who treasures stories hidden in objects and who recognizes the delicate mutability of the visible world, while the roots of Neruda’s political beliefs are implied in the boy’s encounters with struggles for social justice around him. Lines from a poem by Ryan along with Sís’s art emphasize scenes and introduce chapters, perfectly conveying the young hero’s dreamy questioning. The illustrator’s trademark drawings deliver a feeling of boundless thought and imagination, suggesting, with whimsy and warmth, Neftalí’s continual transformation of the everyday world into something transcendent. A brief selection of Neruda’s poems (in translation), a bibliography and an author’s note enrich an inviting and already splendid, beautifully presented work. (Historical fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-439-26970-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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Templeton Twins hidden in integrand function (5, 3). Read it to solve it! (Fiction. 9-13)

THE TEMPLETON TWINS HAVE AN IDEA

From the Templeton Twins series , Vol. 1

The scene-hogging narrator steals the show in this clever series opener.

Since the mother of 12-year-old twins Abigail and John recently died, their father, professor Elton Templeton, has decided to take his knack for inventing to Tickeridge-Baltock Institute of Technology (aka Tick-Tock Tech). At the professor’s opening lecture, disgruntled former student Dean D. Dean accuses him of stealing his idea for the Personal One-Man Helicopter. When the professor denies Dean’s involvement in his invention, Dean (with the help of his own twin brother, Dan) kidnaps the Templeton twins and their ridiculous dog, hoping to retrieve the device as ransom. How this caper, accompanied by mechanical-like illustrations, will end matters less than how the narrator will report it. Nearly a character himself, the self-important, over-the-top narrator takes pleasure in admonishing his readers (“If you don’t remember me saying that, I urge you to turn back to Chapter 2 (the first Chapter 2) and refresh your memory, because I distinctly remember saying it, and I remember you reading it”). Occasionally tedious, his end-of-chapter “Questions for Review” emphasize humor—and his ego. Also adding to the fun, particularly for word buffs, is Abigail’s use of cryptic crossword puzzles. A tender ending to this otherwise comical story acknowledges the family’s grief.

Templeton Twins hidden in integrand function (5, 3). Read it to solve it! (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8118-6679-8

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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