Readers will be chastened—and warmed—and sorry to see the last page.

READ REVIEW

THE AMBER SPYGLASS

From the His Dark Materials series , Vol. 3

The longed-for third volume in this trilogy (The Golden Compass, 1996; The Subtle Knife, 1997) satisfies deeply: full of grand set pieces, resplendent language, and glorious storytelling.

Lyra Silvertongue at 12, from a world like but unlike this one, is keeper of the alethiometer—the golden compass. She can read its ways to find the truth, but it has been taken from her. Will Parry, of this world, injured by the subtle knife that can cut windows between worlds, will bring it back to her. And in yet another place, an Oxford researcher makes a spyglass that enables her to see the golden patterns of Dust, stuff of the universe. All of the splendid characters of the earlier books make a return, like Pan, Lyra’s daemon, part of her very self; Iorek Byrnison the bear king; and Lyra’s bewitching parents, Lord Asriel and the terrifying Mrs. Coulter. Whole new races appear: a panoply of angels; the mulefa, whose triangulated legs use the wheel in a new way; the brave and dashing Gallivespians, who live but a decade and are small enough to ride dragonflies. Across this brilliant and vivid canvas, the largest of themes play out: life and death, goodness and evil, self and other, the redemptive power of love. Lyra and Will’s quest is hard and heartbreaking: they can only rely on themselves and each other to save their worlds, and the cost is great. There are roaring battles and moments of great tenderness; there are unforgettable scenes—Lyra and Will leading ghosts through the land of the dead, for example—and not a few echoes of Paradise Lost with some deeply unconventional theological implications. What matters at the last are the stories, and the truth of their telling.

Readers will be chastened—and warmed—and sorry to see the last page. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2000

ISBN: 978-0-679-87926-8

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2000

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A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe.

PRISONER B-3087

If Anne Frank had been a boy, this is the story her male counterpart might have told. At least, the very beginning of this historical novel reads as such.

It is 1939, and Yanek Gruener is a 10-year old Jew in Kraków when the Nazis invade Poland. His family is forced to live with multiple other families in a tiny apartment as his beloved neighborhood of Podgórze changes from haven to ghetto in a matter of weeks. Readers will be quickly drawn into this first-person account of dwindling freedoms, daily humiliations and heart-wrenching separations from loved ones. Yet as the story darkens, it begs the age-old question of when and how to introduce children to the extremes of human brutality. Based on the true story of the life of Jack Gruener, who remarkably survived not just one, but 10 different concentration camps, this is an extraordinary, memorable and hopeful saga told in unflinching prose. While Gratz’s words and early images are geared for young people, and are less gory than some accounts, Yanek’s later experiences bear a closer resemblance to Elie Wiesel’s Night than more middle-grade offerings, such as Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. It may well support classroom work with adult review first.

A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-45901-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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Some might guess at the baffling, heart-pounding conclusion, but when all the sidewalk characters from Miranda’s Manhattan...

WHEN YOU REACH ME

When Miranda’s best friend Sal gets punched by a strange kid, he abruptly stops speaking to her; then oddly prescient letters start arriving.

They ask for her help, saying, “I'm coming to save your friend's life, and my own.” Readers will immediately connect with Miranda’s fluid first-person narration, a mix of Manhattan street smarts and pre-teen innocence. She addresses the letter writer and recounts the weird events of her sixth-grade year, hoping to make sense of the crumpled notes. Miranda’s crystalline picture of her urban landscape will resonate with city teens and intrigue suburban kids. As the letters keep coming, Miranda clings to her favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time, and discusses time travel with Marcus, the nice, nerdy boy who punched Sal. Keen readers will notice Stead toying with time from the start, as Miranda writes in the present about past events that will determine her future.

Some might guess at the baffling, heart-pounding conclusion, but when all the sidewalk characters from Miranda’s Manhattan world converge amid mind-blowing revelations and cunning details, teen readers will circle back to the beginning and say, “Wow...cool.” (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: July 14, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-385-73742-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2009

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