WOLF PACK OF THE WINISK RIVER

This debut novel, told in free verse without anthropomorphism or sentiment, will rivet readers with its story of Wolf, a lone alpha male whose life partner was killed two years earlier by a black bear. Wolf appears in a small Canadian town, but, when its resident humans try to shoot him, he flees to relative safety in the wilderness along the Winisk River. At first Wolf snags a stag and feasts. He then attempts other kills, but he really can’t take down large prey without help. Finding a female with cubs, he fights off two young male wolves to win a place in the pack. Readers will travel with the pack in search for food as they weather the severe cold of the Canadian forest. The few human characters—campers, hunters and assorted interlopers—provide a rich, added dimension to this survival tale. First Nations artist Kakegamic’s spot illustrations offer muscular visual counterpoint to the compelling narrative. This eat-or-be-eaten tale of wolves and assorted anonymous human characters reveals a deep and resonant story about nature of both the wild and human sort. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: April 15, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-897550-10-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Lobster Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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A MANGO-SHAPED SPACE

A young teen whose world is filled with colors and shapes that no one else sees copes with the universal and competing drives to be unique and to be utterly and totally normal. Thirteen-year-old Mia is a synesthete: her brain connects her visual and auditory systems so that when she hears, or thinks about, sounds and words, they carry with them associated colors and shapes that fill the air about her. This is a boon in many ways—she excels in history because she can remember dates by their colors—and a curse. Ever since she realized her difference, she has concealed her ability, until algebra defeats her: “Normally an x is a shiny maroon color, like a ripe cherry. But here an x has to stand for an unknown number. But I can’t make myself assign the x any other color than maroon, and there are no maroon-colored numbers. . . . I’m lost in shades of gray and want to scream in frustration.” When Mia learns that she is not alone, she begins to explore the lore and community of synesthesia, a process that disrupts her relationships with her family, friends, and even herself. In her fiction debut for children, Mass has created a memorable protagonist whose colors enhance but do not define her dreamily artistic character. The present-tense narration lends immediacy and impact to Mia’s color perceptions: “Each high-pitched meow sends Sunkist-orange coils dancing in front of me. . . . ” The narrative, however, is rather overfull of details—a crazily built house, highly idiosyncratic family members, two boy interests, a beloved sick cat—which tend to compete for the reader’s attention in much the same way as Mia’s colors. This flaw (not unusual with first novels) aside, here is a quietly unusual and promising offering. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-316-52388-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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WAR DOG

In his first novel for young readers, Booth (Dreaming of Samarkand, 1990, etc.) introduces Jet, a black Labrador hero in the tradition of Rin Tin Tin. After Jet's owner is jailed for poaching game, the dog is enlisted in the British Armed Forces. This isn't as crazy as it sounds; the preface reminds readers that many animals have been requisitioned in times of war. World War II is brewing in Europe and Jet proves to be the perfect military trainee. She is sent to combat with her new ``handler'' in France, where her duties include sniffing out the enemy and the wounded. When Jet herself is wounded, she serves her country in a different capacity by searching out people buried in rubble in a bomb-torn city. Soon, she's needed back in the front lines, where she is miraculously reunited with her original owner. Military buffs will relish the war details: This book has the feel of the black-and-white movies of the 1940s. All readers will be stirred by the heroic canine's adventures. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-689-81380-5

Page Count: 133

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1997

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