THINK AGAIN

More than 40 introspective poems and accompanying illustrations explore the complexity of close relationships. The gifted Canadian artists Lawson (Black Stars in a White Night Sky, 2008) and Morstad (Where You Came From, with Sara O’Leary, 2008) here turn away from unabashed silliness to tackle the more serious aspects of relationship building and character formation that greet children moving into their teens. Ever playful, the poet’s pithy quatrains distill relational truths to their essence—“My Dad had a mid-life crisis, quit his wife and job. / The briefest summing up suffices: / Gave himself up to his vices / Lives on beer and pizza slices”—or lightly capture the gravitas of a moment—“Sit still said her father— / Quiet said her mom: / So she sat still and quiet / As an unexploded bomb.” While the illustrator’s spare grayscale drawings curiously stitch more of a narrative thread through the volume than the poems suggest, they effectively amplify the tension they masterfully depict. An entirely rewarding combination. (Poetry. 9-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-55453-423-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: March 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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THE LOUD SILENCE OF FRANCINE GREEN

It’s 1949, and 13-year-old Francine Green lives in “the land of ‘Sit down, Francine’ and ‘Be quiet, Francine’ ” at All Saints School for Girls in Los Angeles. When she meets Sophie Bowman and her father, she’s encouraged to think about issues in the news: the atomic bomb, peace, communism and blacklisting. This is not a story about the McCarthy era so much as one about how one girl—who has been trained to be quiet and obedient by her school, family, church and culture—learns to speak up for herself. Cushman offers a fine sense of the times with such cultural references as President Truman, Hopalong Cassidy, Montgomery Clift, Lucky Strike, “duck and cover” and the Iron Curtain. The dialogue is sharp, carrying a good part of this story of friends and foes, guilt and courage—a story that ought to send readers off to find out more about McCarthy, his witch-hunt and the First Amendment. Though not a happily-ever-after tale, it dramatizes how one person can stand up to unfairness, be it in front of Senate hearings or in the classroom. (author’s note) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-618-50455-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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ASK ME NO QUESTIONS

Illegal immigrant sisters learn a lot about themselves when their family faces deportation in this compelling contemporary drama. Immigrants from Bangladesh, Nadira, her older sister Aisha and their parents live in New York City with expired visas. Fourteen-year-old Nadira describes herself as “the slow-wit second-born” who follows Aisha, the family star who’s on track for class valedictorian and a top-rate college. Everything changes when post-9/11 government crack-downs on Muslim immigrants push the family to seek asylum in Canada where they are turned away at the border and their father is arrested by U.S. immigration. The sisters return to New York living in constant fear of detection and trying to pretend everything is normal. As months pass, Aisha falls apart while Nadira uses her head in “a right way” to save her father and her family. Nadira’s need for acceptance by her family neatly parallels the family’s desire for acceptance in their adopted country. A perceptive peek into the lives of foreigners on the fringe. (endnote) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-4169-0351-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Ginee Seo/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2005

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