IN CAVERNS OF BLUE ICE

Its focus firmly on the details of mountaineering in the French Alps and the Himalayas—mechanics, technique, lore, social milieu—a simplistic novel about an unlikely superheroine (though already making record-breaking climbs while still in her teens, her only major injury occurs early on when a guide hazes her by giving her a double load) who achieves worldwide recognition for her exploits in the 1950's. The tacked-on plot—minor setbacks, a romance with another climber—has less depth than most comic strips and reads like an old-fashioned adulatory biography. Roper is obviously well-acquainted with climbing, and for anyone interested in the subject there's a wealth of information here; he should have omitted the feeble story and added an index. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-316-75606-7

Page Count: 188

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1991

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A YEAR DOWN YONDER

From the Grandma Dowdel series , Vol. 2

Set in 1937 during the so-called “Roosevelt recession,” tight times compel Mary Alice, a Chicago girl, to move in with her grandmother, who lives in a tiny Illinois town so behind the times that it doesn’t “even have a picture show.”

This winning sequel takes place several years after A Long Way From Chicago (1998) leaves off, once again introducing the reader to Mary Alice, now 15, and her Grandma Dowdel, an indomitable, idiosyncratic woman who despite her hard-as-nails exterior is able to see her granddaughter with “eyes in the back of her heart.” Peck’s slice-of-life novel doesn’t have much in the way of a sustained plot; it could almost be a series of short stories strung together, but the narrative never flags, and the book, populated with distinctive, soulful characters who run the gamut from crazy to conventional, holds the reader’s interest throughout. And the vignettes, some involving a persnickety Grandma acting nasty while accomplishing a kindness, others in which she deflates an overblown ego or deals with a petty rivalry, are original and wildly funny. The arena may be a small hick town, but the battle for domination over that tiny turf is fierce, and Grandma Dowdel is a canny player for whom losing isn’t an option. The first-person narration is infused with rich, colorful language—“She was skinnier than a toothpick with termites”—and Mary Alice’s shrewd, prickly observations: “Anybody who thinks small towns are friendlier than big cities lives in a big city.”

Year-round fun. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 978-0-8037-2518-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2000

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DANIEL'S STORY

After witnessing the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany, Daniel is suddenly transported, at age 14, from his comfortable life in Frankfurt to a Polish ghetto, then to Auschwitz and Buchenwald—losing most of his family along the way, seeing Nazi brutality of both the casual and the calculated kind, and recording atrocities with a smuggled camera (``What has happened to me?...Who am I? Where am I going?''). Matas, explicating an exhibit of photos and other materials at the new United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, creates a convincing composite youth and experience—fictional but carefully based on survivors' accounts. It's a savage story with no attempt to soften the culpability of the German people; Daniel's profound anger is easier to understand than is his father's compassion or his sister's plea to ``chose love. Always choose love.'' Daniel survives to be reunited, after the war, with his wife-to-be, but his dying friend's last word echoes beyond the happy ending: ``Remember...'' An unusual undertaking, effectively carried out. Chronology; glossary. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-590-46920-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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