THE SECRET JOURNEY

Taking a page from Avi’s The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (1990), Kehret (I’m Not Who You Think I Am, p. 223, etc.) pens a similar story of a girl who goes to sea. Determined not to be separated from her seriously ill mother, Emma, 12, embarks on a plan that results in the adventure of a lifetime. Sent to live with Aunt Martha and her arrogant son, Odolf, Emma carefully plots her escape. Disguising herself in her cousin’s used clothes, she sneaks out while the household slumbers and stows away on what she believes to be a ship carrying her parents from England to the warmer climate of France. Instead, the ship is the evil, ill-fated Black Lightning, under the command of the notorious Captain Beacon. Emma finds herself sharing quarters with a crew of filthy, surly, dangerous men. When a fierce storm swamps the ship, Emma desperately seizes her chance to escape, drifting for several days and nights aboard a hatch cover and finally carried to land somewhere on the coast of Africa. Hungry, thirsty, and alone, Emma faces the daunting prospect of slow starvation, but survives due to a relationship she builds with a band of chimpanzees. This page-turning adventure story shows evidence of solid research and experienced plotting—the pacing is breathless. Kehret paints a starkly realistic portrait, complete with sounds and smells of the difficult and unpleasant life aboard ship. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-03416-2

Page Count: 138

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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THE BANISHED

In a prequel to The Ice Bear (1986), Siri’s people live in the frozen Starkland settlement, residing peacefully with the primitive Furfolk, who communicate by whuffles and grunts. Siri’s Uncle Thorvald plans to convince the king to rescind their people’s banishment to that remote arctic isle with the gift of an ice bear and its cubs. To do this he needs the help of his friend, a Furfolk man, who can handle the bear on the long sea journey; Siri accompanies them disguised as one of the Furfolk man’s children. But when the king insists that the Furfolk man stay with the bear, Thorvald is forced to betray his friend for the sake of his people, while Siri chooses to betray Thorvald for her new Furfolk friends. Her allegiances have shifted during the course of the journey, and in the end it is left unclear whether her people will try to destroy the Furfolk, and what Siri can do to stop them. This complex, atmospheric morality tale offers no easy answers, and takes place in a world that is alien and exotic. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16602-4

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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A BIG CHEESE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE

THE TRUE TALE OF A TREMENDOUS CHEDDAR

The author and illustrator bring to life an incident right out of history in this droll picture book enhanced by lively, color- washed pen-and-ink drawings. In Cheshire, Massachusetts, the home of mouth-watering cheese, the local residents grumble that President Jefferson is serving cheese from Norton, Connecticut, at the White House. “I have an idea,” says Elder John Leland to the assembled town folk, “If each of you will give one day’s milking from each of your many cows, we can put our curds together and create a whopping big cheddar.” Although some people scoff, the farmers bring load after load of milk—from 934 cows—to town and they set about making an enormous cheese. There are problems along the way, but eventually the giant cheese is dragged to a barn to age. At last it is perfect, and Mr. Leland and friends start the long haul to the East Room of White House. In a foreword, the author explains the truth and fiction in the tale, e.g., that the presidential residence wasn’t called the White House until about 1809. A humorous tale with a wide range of appeal and uses in and out of the classroom. (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7894-2573-4

Page Count: 30

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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