A solid resource for teens seeking advice on planning their futures.

IGNITE YOUR SPARK

DISCOVERING WHO YOU ARE FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Wooster offers teens too shy or scared to be themselves the stories of others who have embraced their true selves.

In peppy prose, the author exhorts teens: instead of following the crowd, focus on “discovering and becoming the person you want to be”—aka igniting your spark. Chapters not only provide suggestions for igniting readers’ sparks in school, hobbies and activities, and relationships, but how to face failures and boost willpower. The text is peppered with spark igniters and extinguishers, role-plays, quizzes, and examples of all kinds of success stories. It's a bit cluttered and doesn't have a lot of flow, but the information contained is solid. Perhaps there's too much emphasis on not being one of many—what about teens who are authentically interested in doing the same as most of their peers?—yet the positive, cheerleading tone will certainly reassure any teens who are scared of being “different.” The teen success stories are drawn from all fields, from science to art, business to philanthropy. The section on toxic friendship is particularly valuable.

A solid resource for teens seeking advice on planning their futures. (notes, further resources) (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58270-565-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Beyond Words/Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stands out neither as a folk-tale retelling, a coming-of-age story, nor a Holocaust novel.

MAPPING THE BONES

A Holocaust tale with a thin “Hansel and Gretel” veneer from the author of The Devil’s Arithmetic (1988).

Chaim and Gittel, 14-year-old twins, live with their parents in the Lodz ghetto, forced from their comfortable country home by the Nazis. The siblings are close, sharing a sign-based twin language; Chaim stutters and communicates primarily with his sister. Though slowly starving, they make the best of things with their beloved parents, although it’s more difficult once they must share their tiny flat with an unpleasant interfaith couple and their Mischling (half-Jewish) children. When the family hears of their impending “wedding invitation”—the ghetto idiom for a forthcoming order for transport—they plan a dangerous escape. Their journey is difficult, and one by one, the adults vanish. Ultimately the children end up in a fictional child labor camp, making ammunition for the German war effort. Their story effectively evokes the dehumanizing nature of unremitting silence. Nevertheless, the dense, distancing narrative (told in a third-person contemporaneous narration focused through Chaim with interspersed snippets from Gittel’s several-decades-later perspective) has several consistency problems, mostly regarding the relative religiosity of this nominally secular family. One theme seems to be frustration with those who didn’t fight back against overwhelming odds, which makes for a confusing judgment on the suffering child protagonists.

Stands out neither as a folk-tale retelling, a coming-of-age story, nor a Holocaust novel. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-25778-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A strong sense of place and an appealing protagonist cannot overcome outdated stereotypes of Indigenous people.

THE WHALER'S DAUGHTER

In pre–World War I Australia, 12-year-old Savannah Dawson wants to be a whaler like her father.

She knows whaling is in her blood, however, as a girl, she is stuck as a cook’s helper. Given the chance, she would gladly follow in her father’s footsteps even though that is how both her brothers lost their lives. Her mother has also passed away, and her absence is palpable. Through her new friend, Figgie, an Indigenous boy whose real name is Calagun—Savannah renames him after an ineffectual attempt to pronounce it—she learns about Indigenous beliefs positioning orcas as the guardians of the Earth and the need to live in harmony with nature. As she comprehends the balance between whaling and the beasts of the deep, she has increasingly cryptic dreams. Meanwhile, industrialization is encroaching thanks to wealthy American investor Jacob Bittermen, who wants to introduce factory processes to whaling. Savannah, who is White by default, is a well-developed, three-dimensional character who starts off only caring about her own goals but grows through her friendships. Whaling terms and Australian slang add atmosphere and pull readers deeper into the colorful world. Unfortunately, the Indigenous characters feed into tropes of mystical guides. Figgie is not as well rounded as Savannah; his actions support her journey of self-discovery, but apart from that, he does not appear to have a purpose in the story.

A strong sense of place and an appealing protagonist cannot overcome outdated stereotypes of Indigenous people. (list of abbreviations, glossary) (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: July 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64603-070-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Fitzroy Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more