NAKED BUNYIP DANCING

Under the guidance of their teacher, the students of Class 6C experience Bob Dylan, yoga and belly dancing—but not, alas, naked bunyip dancing—over the course of one daffy year. Mr. Carey can handle anything, from Billy the punk and J-man the rapper to Emily the dancer and Sophie the poet, and he knows how to channel their diverse interests and talents into one blockbuster variety concert. Giving the students voice in a series of free-verse poems, Herrick presents readers with a happily chaotic classroom peopled by genuine individuals. Readers will get to know some kids better than others, however, resulting in an uneven understanding of the characters. Alex, for instance, comes to life as a kid whose wounds from his parents’ separation are still raw, but Ahmet is cast as only a soccer nut. The class as a whole is the real protagonist here, though, united by love for their ponytailed teacher and a genuinely fond respect for one another. In this regard, it’s just as staged as the kids’ concert, but with just as pleasing a result. (Fiction/poetry. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59078-499-0

Page Count: 202

Publisher: Front Street/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

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IQBAL

This profoundly moving story is all the more impressive because of its basis in fact. Although the story is fictionalized, its most harrowing aspects are true: “Today, more than two hundred million children between the ages of five and seventeen are ‘economically active’ in the world.” Iqbal Masih, a real boy, was murdered at age 13. His killers have never been found, but it’s believed that a cartel of ruthless people overseeing the carpet industry, the “Carpet Mafia,” killed him. The carpet business in Pakistan is the backdrop for the story of a young Pakistani girl in indentured servitude to a factory owner, who also “owned” the bonds of 14 children, indentured by their own families for sorely needed money. Fatima’s first-person narrative grips from the beginning and inspires with every increment of pride and resistance the defiant Iqbal instills in his fellow workers. Although he was murdered for his efforts, Iqbal’s life was not in vain; the accounts here of children who were liberated through his and activist adults’ efforts will move readers for years to come. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-85445-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2003

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BEOWULF

“Hear, and listen well, my friends, and I will tell you a tale that has been told for a thousand years and more.” It’s not exactly a rarely told tale, either, though this complete rendition is distinguished by both handsome packaging and a prose narrative that artfully mixes alliterative language reminiscent of the original, with currently topical references to, for instance, Grendel’s “endless terror raids,” and the “holocaust at Heorot.” Along with being printed on heavy stock and surrounded by braided borders, the text is paired to colorful scenes featuring a small human warrior squaring off with a succession of grimacing but not very frightening monsters in battles marked by but a few discreet splashes of blood. Morpurgo puts his finger on the story’s enduring appeal—“we still fear the evil that stalks out there in the darkness . . . ”—but offers a version unlikely to trouble the sleep of more sensitive readers or listeners. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7636-3206-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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