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TREASURE OF THE WORLD

Heartbreakingly splendid.

Hoping to escape the harsh labor that binds her Bolivian mining village to the mountain called Cerro Rico, 12-year-old Ana risks life and soul to unchain herself and her family.

For Ana and her sickly younger brother, Daniel, cherished school days come to a premature close when Papi, a man filled with meanness, forces Daniel to join him in the mines. Daniel, however, doesn’t last long, returning sick on his second day. Brave Ana volunteers to take her brother’s place until he can recover, much to the disapproval of Mami, Abuelita, and, particularly, the other miners, who deem her appearance in the mines a bad omen. The dreaded misfortune comes in the form of a cave-in: Papi dies and Daniel goes missing. Though everyone believes that Daniel is dead, Ana doesn’t give up hope and secretly enters the mountain one quiet night to find him, ending up lost, disoriented, and on the verge of death. But when she returns to the land of the living, she finds her world forever altered. The bittersweet splendors in Sullivan’s latest offer an intense meditation on community, child labor, and ancestral roots, among other themes. Rich with memorable characters and streaks of brilliant writing, as in the author’s previous works, Ana’s story takes readers on an arduous and ultimately rewarding journey that illuminates a fraction of the human toll behind the profit-driven pursuits of a materialistic world.

Heartbreakingly splendid. (author’s note, note on language use, glossary) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-51696-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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NOWHERE BOY

A captivating book situated in present-day discourse around the refugee crisis, featuring two boys who stand by their high...

Two parallel stories, one of a Syrian boy from Aleppo fleeing war, and another of a white American boy, son of a NATO contractor, dealing with the challenges of growing up, intersect at a house in Brussels.

Ahmed lost his father while crossing the Mediterranean. Alone and broke in Europe, he takes things into his own hands to get to safety but ends up having to hide in the basement of a residential house. After months of hiding, he is discovered by Max, a boy of similar age and parallel high integrity and courage, who is experiencing his own set of troubles learning a new language, moving to a new country, and being teased at school. In an unexpected turn of events, the two boys and their new friends Farah, a Muslim Belgian girl, and Oscar, a white Belgian boy, successfully scheme for Ahmed to go to school while he remains in hiding the rest of the time. What is at stake for Ahmed is immense, and so is the risk to everyone involved. Marsh invites art and history to motivate her protagonists, drawing parallels to gentiles who protected Jews fleeing Nazi terror and citing present-day political news. This well-crafted and suspenseful novel touches on the topics of refugees and immigrant integration, terrorism, Islam, Islamophobia, and the Syrian war with sensitivity and grace.

A captivating book situated in present-day discourse around the refugee crisis, featuring two boys who stand by their high values in the face of grave risk and succeed in drawing goodwill from others. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-30757-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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