WILLIWAW!

PLB 0-679-99030-5 Bodett (for adults, The Free Fall of Webster Cummings, 1996, etc.) tacks toward a younger audience with this tale of two siblings who prove they’re not ready to be on their own. With her fisherman father gone for yet another long stretch, September, and her brother, Ivan, keep up with chores and school lessons in their isolated Alaska cabin; then Ivan attempts to jury-rig a power connection for his video game, and shorts out both radios. Despite their father’s express prohibition, the two boat for town, 14 miles across the bay, to get the radios fixed. That first trip becomes a series after September and Ivan discover that the pleasures of the local french fries, chocolate shakes, and human contact outweigh the guilt of breaking promises. Ensuing complications and several poor decisions ultimately put them out in the bay when a “williwaw,” a sudden storm, howls in. It’s a wild, exciting climax, but the author reaches it only after a leisurely exploration of the push-pull relationship between two lonely children on the edge of adolescence. Reader-interest in these capable but not yet self-reliant characters may flicker in the face of Bodett’s overwritten prose and his tendency to harp on certain themes, such as Ivan’s video game addiction. Still, with the thrilling finish and singular setting, this is a promising effort. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-679-89030-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1999

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GUTS

THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND HATCHET AND THE BRIAN BOOKS

Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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F IS FOR FABULOSO

In an earnest, preachy tale from Lee (Night of the Chupacabras, 1998, etc.), a Korean-American seventh grader copes with poor teaching in school and rising tension at home. Two years after moving to Minnesota, Jin-Ha’s mother is still trapped in the family apartment, so afraid to attempt English that she’s unable to shop without a translator, and so isolated that she doesn’t know what the F at the top of Jin-Ha’s math test means. Driven by guilt and humiliation, Jin-Ha resolves to study harder; she gets no help from her lazy, inflexible, insensitive (“You Japanese are going to beat our butts”) teacher, but finds an unexpected ally in hunky classmate Grant Hartwig. In public, he calls her a “friggin’ jap math geek,” justifying himself by saying, “That’s how guys are. You have to prove that you can dish it out and take it, too,” but in private he morphs into a patient math tutor. To compound Jin-Ha’s worries, her father takes to coming home late nearly every night with a vague excuse. The situations are resolved amid a welter of confessions (Jin-Ha’s father is working a second job), stern lectures, and fervent promises, capped by a warm, fuzzy Christmas scene. Although often perceptive, this study in cultural acclimation is weighed down by artificial-sounding dialogue and scarily simplistic characters. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 1999

ISBN: 0-380-97648-X

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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