BAT 6

In Bear Creek Ridge and Barlow, two small Oregon towns, everyone is looking forward to the Bat 6 girls’ softball game of 1949. Both towns make plans to cheer the sixth graders on, all in the name of good, clean fun. This simple, small-town portrait of Americana is shattered, however, when a racial incident occurs at the 50th annual game: One player, Shirley, whose father was killed at Pearl Harbor, slams her elbow into the face of Aki, a Japanese-American. It brings the game to a halt, and inspires the townspeople to debate and examine what exactly has gone wrong in the years since WW II ended. Guilt hangs over both towns: Could anyone have prevented the incident? Shirley had not concealed her hatred of “Japs,” yet no one had believed that such a troubled girl would act on her feelings. Through the first-person narrations of the 21 girls of the two teams, the story emerges, and while few of the voices are truly distinct, their emotions and perspectives ring true. Wolff (Make Lemonade, 1993, etc.) is especially deft in creating a transforming, bittersweet post-war atmosphere and winning portraits of members of the communities who support, respect, and encourage their young girls, but come to question their own roles in the tragedy. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-590-89799-3

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998

THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point.

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin.

The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyne’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice.

Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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