BLOOD FEUD

Remarkably wide-ranging yet tightly cast, Sutcliff's cross-cultural chronicle takes her orphaned hero Justyn Englishman from a Celtic outpost to Saxon Britain, on to Viking slavery in Dublin, and then, freed, home to Norseland with his former master Thormod—and with him across the Baltic and down river to Constantinople, drafted en route to fight for Byzantine Basil II. The blood feud of the title is thrust upon Thormod on his return home from Dublin, making him the sworn enemy of his former best friends—two brothers whose father's accidental death began the feud and whom Thormod, to avenge his father's death, now pursues to Constantinople. Justyn becomes blood brother with Thormod and takes up his feud as well, but it is not until Thormod is killed much later that he feels it as his own—and not until the end, when Justyn is peacefully learning medicine in Constantinople, that he consciously passes up his chance for vengeance. It is the feud that impels the action and charts the voyage, but the action is never separated from the historical/cultural context. What impresses once more is the way Sutcliff integrates individual contingencies and choices with the larger currents and Clashes, and contains it all in each sharply differentiated, immediately visualized scene.

Pub Date: June 10, 1977

ISBN: 0525267301

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1977

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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