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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MY LAND SINGS

STORIES FROM THE RIO GRANDE

Fascinated with the Hispanic and Native American folktales of his youth, Anaya (The Farolitos of Christmas, 1995, etc.) has compiled ten stories from time-honored oral traditions, including some passed on in corridos, or songs. The tales hold lessons on respect for elders, the importance of the Catholic faith, reverence for the animal world, the role of luck in a man’s life, and whether or not we should attempt to seek immortality. The wide variety of stories demonstrate a mature understanding of life’s trappings and dangers, but retain a healthy sense of humor about the human predicament. C¢rdova’s black-and-white illustrations capture the magic and beliefs expressed by the tales. (b&w illustrations, glossary) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-15078-0

Page Count: 187

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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FRAMED IN FIRE

Patneaude (The Last Man’s Reward, 1996, etc.) hatches a silly plot and one-dimensional characters, but preteens might enjoy this piece of escapist entertainment about a boy wrongly committed to a mental asylum. Peter’s weak-willed mother has lied to him all his life about his real father, allegedly dead. Peter doesn’t get along with his stepfather, a car salesman, who schemes to have him committed by a corrupt psychiatrist. In the asylum, Peter befriends two disturbed inmates and a health technician who help him escape. Among the absurd plot concoctions: Peter’s five-year-old half-brother, Lincoln, is psychic, allowing Peter extraordinary access to clues he needs to find his real father; and that his father has been searching for Peter all along. Patneaude resurrects elements from his first novel, Someone Was Watching (1993), in which a supposedly drowned sister has really been kidnapped, and in which a cross-country trip unfolds without much mishap. His writing style, however, is so robust that even if readers find little remotely connected to reality in these pages, there’s more than enough suspense in the fast-paced narrative to keep them entertained. (Fiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8075-9098-3

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1999

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