Another settler’s-eye view of Colonial history.

POISON IN THE COLONY

JAMES TOWN 1622

A young white girl observes the beginnings of English colonization of the American continent, including encounters with Native Americans and enslavement of the newly arrived Africans.

Young Ginny Laydon, the first child born in the white settler colony of Jamestown, Virginia, carries “the knowing,” or second sight. Initially, the only person who knows of Ginny’s secret is her family’s friend Samuel Collier, a young white man who acts as Native American cultural interpreter throughout the book (and who was the protagonist of Blood on the River, 2006). Ginny is a descendant of a long line of women who have suffered persecution as witches. When Ginny’s secret is suspected, she is slated to be tried for witchcraft; a later threat of Indian attack on the colony defuses the tension generated by Ginny’s plight. Depictions of Native Americans place these characters as the backdrop, viewed always through Ginny’s eyes, however sympathetic, as other. In one freighted scene, an inscrutable Powhatan man touches Ginny’s forehead, a gesture she feels is connected with her knowing; in another she has a vision of crowded ships, including one full of Africans, and is frightened by the “sheer mass of [people],” drawing no distinction between white settlers and Africans in bondage. Carbone projects her fictional narrative on historical characters (parsed in an author’s note), presenting the white settlers as mostly amicable and welcoming of cultural mixing, and the fundamental violation that is colonialism is not really questioned.

Another settler’s-eye view of Colonial history. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-425-29183-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner

THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

more