A handsome, well-designed offering for middle readers and families.

AT JERUSALEM’S GATE

POEMS OF EASTER

Through beautiful, lucid free verse, Nikki Grimes explores some of the ambiguous, enigmatic events and circumstances leading up to the central theme behind the annual Easter observance.

Twenty-two poems introduced by a brief explanatory paragraph portray the story through the imagined eyes of the principals involved. Details of the Last Supper, Pilate’s wife’s role, the religious council tribunal, Mary’s grief, the darkening of the sky at the time of the crucifixion and the site of the ascension are all included. Questions raised in each piece encourage discussion of multiple interpretations, as in the poem titled “What’s in a Name?,” which refers to Judas’s role as one of betrayer and the subsequent altered implication to his name. Poetry is gentle yet thoughtful, alluding to the brutality of the execution while providing an almost prayer-like personal reflection. Multi-colored woodcuts suggest the emotion and mood of each scene in a parody of stained glass.

A handsome, well-designed offering for middle readers and families. (Poetry. 10+)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8028-5183-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2005

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JEREMY FINK AND THE MEANING OF LIFE

Years before he died, Jeremy Fink’s father prepared a box containing “the meaning of life” for his son to open on his 13th birthday. When Jeremy receives the box a few months before that momentous day, the keys are missing, and it’s up to him and his best friend Lizzy to find a way into the box. The search for the keys—or, failing the keys, the meaning of life itself—takes the two throughout New York City and into a spot of trouble, which lands them a very unusual community-service sentence: They must return treasures to the children, now grown, who pawned them long ago. This device brings Jeremy and Lizzy—both originals to the core—into contact with a calculated variety of characters, all of whom have their own unique angles on the meaning of life. Mass spins a leisurely tale that’s occasionally Konigsburg-esque, carefully constructed to give narrator Jeremy ample time to reflect on his encounters. It may be a subplot or two in need of a trim, and the resolution will surprise nobody but Jeremy, but agreeable on the whole. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-316-05829-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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An intimate novel that beautifully confronts grief and loss.

RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE

It’s 1983, and 13-year-old Indian American Reha feels caught between two worlds.

Monday through Friday, she goes to a school where she stands out for not being White but where she has a weekday best friend, Rachel, and does English projects with potential crush Pete. On the weekends, she’s with her other best friend, Sunita (Sunny for short), at gatherings hosted by her Indian community. Reha feels frustrated that her parents refuse to acknowledge her Americanness and insist on raising her with Indian values and habits. Then, on the night of the middle school dance, her mother is admitted to the hospital, and Reha’s world is split in two again: this time, between hospital and home. Suddenly she must learn not just how to be both Indian and American, but also how to live with her mother’s leukemia diagnosis. The sections dealing with Reha’s immigrant identity rely on oft-told themes about the overprotectiveness of immigrant parents and lack the nuance found in later pages. Reha’s story of her evolving relationships with her parents, however, feels layered and real, and the scenes in which Reha must grapple with the possible loss of a parent are beautifully and sensitively rendered. The sophistication of the text makes it a valuable and thought-provoking read even for those older than the protagonist.

An intimate novel that beautifully confronts grief and loss. (Verse novel. 11-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304742-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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