TAKE COMMAND, CAPTAIN FARRAGUT!

At age ten, David Glasgow Farragut became the youngest midshipman ever assigned to a warship in the United States Navy. In a series of fictionalized letters written to his father, Farragut relays the capture of his ship and three-week imprisonment pending parole. Beginning March 29, 1814, aboard a prison ship in Valparaiso, Chile, and ending April 20, 1814, on the 23rd day of captivity, the letters flash back to the time when Farragut’s father sent him to serve Captain Porter following his mother’s death. Porter is posted to the ship, Essex, which sets sail in the war against England. As one of the ship’s 11 midshipmen, Farragut faced many obstacles because of his age and particularly because of his small size. The voice in the letters rings with determination and strength, shaping the character of the young man whose name would stand in history. The eight black-and-white scratchboard illustrations in McCurdy’s signature technique are equally commanding, building the strength of the narrative with hewn details of ship life and creating still life images of the drama of the action. A glossary defines nautical terms and the authors’ note cites the sources for their research that includes Farragut’s own accounts of his life. An unusual presentation that could spark interest in this exceptional young man. (Historical fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-83022-X

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

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THE COLOR OF MY WORDS

This standout novella lustrously portrays Ana Rosa and the rich simplicity of her family’s daily life in the Dominican Republic. The linked vignettes and elegant prose vitalize the merengue music, colorful houses, as well as the people’s poverty and the tyranny of the government. Each chapter begins with one of Ana Rosa’s lovely rhythmic verses. A poet and writer at age 12, she steals bits of paper to record everything she sees, hears, and imagines. Ana Rosa’s family is very close by necessity, but it is her beloved brother Guario who has the job that supports them. As the novella proceeds, dark shadows begin to slink through the gentle days. We learn that Ana Rosa’s father drinks too much rum and Coke, especially on Sundays, when he becomes a lurching spectacle. Then an official informs the villagers that to build a hotel, the government has sold the land on which their families have lived for generations. The villagers band together, Ana Rosa writes an article, and her brother Guario becomes their passionate leader. But when the day of the standoff arrives, the villager’s words and rocks are nothing against the guardia’s guns and bulldozers. The heartbreaking result is Guario’s death. Without diluting the sorrow, Joseph (Fly, Bessie, Fly, 1998, etc.) illustrates the good arising from the tragedy as the government cancels the hotel project and Ana Rosa begins writing the life of her brother. This is an achingly beautiful story that will awaken profound emotions in the reader. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-028232-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2000

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EAGLE SONG

A rare venture into contemporary fiction for Bruchac (The Circle of Thanks, p. 1529, etc.), this disappointing tale of a young Mohawk transplanted to Brooklyn, N.Y., is overstuffed with plotlines, lectures, and cultural information. Danny Bigtree gets jeers, or the cold shoulder, from his fourth-grade classmates, until his ironworker father sits him down to relate—at length- -the story of the great Mohawk peacemaker Aionwahta (Hiawatha), then comes to school to talk about the Iroquois Confederacy and its influence on our country's Founding Fathers. Later, Danny's refusal to tattle when Tyrone, the worst of his tormenters, accidentally hits him in the face with a basketball breaks the ice for good. Two sketchy subplots: Danny runs into an old Seminole friend, who, evidently due to parental neglect, has joined a gang; after dreaming of an eagle falling from a tree, Danny learns that his father has been injured in a construction- site accident. A worthy, well-written novella—but readers cannot be moved by a story that pulls them in so many different directions. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8037-1918-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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