THUNDER ROLLING IN THE MOUNTAINS

Seen through the eyes of Chief Joseph's daughter, Sound of Running Feet, O'Dell's last novel (coauthored and completed after his death by his wife) recounts the circuitous, tragic journey of the Ne-mee-poo (Nez Perce) from their Oregon home to the Lapwai Reservation in Idaho. Wisely recognizing that there's no way to fight the entrenching whites, Chief Joseph counters calls to war from dissenting tribal leaders and agrees to lead his people on what becomes an epic ordeal. Attacked by settlers en route, they win some battles against the "Blue Coats,"but the decimated tribe makes it into Crow territory only to find that their former allies are in league with the Army. Heading for refuge with Sitting Bull in Canada, they're caught in a surprise attack that leaves no choice but surrender. Bringing this bleak historical episode to life in spare, supple prose that echoes Joseph's own dignified words, the authors offer a fascinating look at the heroism of ordinary people. While the strong-willed narrator, her father, and her brave betrothed at first seem larger than life, it is quickly apparent that they don't consider themselves as such; and though she wishes she could fight, the girl dutifully takes her place caring for the young and the infirm. The authors don't tone down war's violence; they simply present it with unembellished clarity that is certain to leave a lasting impression, ending on a memorable note of reconciliation. A fitting end to a distinguished career. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-395-59966-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1992

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A superb historical thriller.

HERO ON A BICYCLE

Thirteen-year-old Paolo Crivelli dreams of being a hero in Nazi-occupied Florence.

It’s a tricky business living in an occupied city. The Allies are advancing from the south, Paolo’s father is missing (thought to be fighting for the Partisans), and the Crivelli family is caught between the Nazi occupiers and the sometimes ruthless Partisans. This first novel by acclaimed children’s picture-book writer and illustrator Hughes expertly captures the tension in the Crivelli home, as Rosemary tries to raise her two children and keep them safe while covertly supporting the Partisan cause. Not so easy with a son like Paolo, who risks sneaking out at night on his bicycle, looking for his own way to be a hero for the cause. There are plenty of heroes here, as layers of resistance to the Nazis are carefully delineated—the obvious bold resistance of the Partisans in the countryside, Rosemary’s agreement to house escaped prisoners of war in her cellar, a lifesaving tip from the captain of the local military police and even a sympathetic member of the Gestapo who conveniently finds nothing when searching the Crivellis’ cellar. The townspeople, a dog and even Paolo’s bicycle play a role in the resistance movement, though the dangers and the realities of war are always tangible in this fine novel.

A superb historical thriller. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6037-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS

Moose’s world is turned upside down when his family moves to Alcatraz Island where his Dad has taken a job as a prison guard. Super-responsible Moose, big for 12, finds himself caught in the social interactions of this odd cut-off world. He cares for his sister who is older, yet acts much younger due to her autism and he finds his life alternating between frustration and growth. His mother focuses all of her attention on ways to cure the sister; his dad works two jobs and meekly accepts the mother’s choices; his fellow island-dwellers are a funny mix of oddball characters and good friends. Basing her story on the actual experience of those who supported the prison in the ’30s—when Al Capone was an inmate—Choldenko’s pacing is exquisite, balancing the tense family dynamics alongside the often-humorous and riveting school story of peer pressure and friendship. Fascinating setting as a metaphor for Moose’s own imprisonment and enabling some hysterically funny scenes, but a great read no matter where it takes place. (lengthy author’s note with footnotes to sources) (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-399-23861-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2004

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