Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Newsletter
Volume 1, Number 1. April 1996. Page 2.
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CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEWS:
***Fleischman, Paul. Dateline: Troy. (Candlewick Press, 1996 ISBN 1-56402-469-5) 79 pages. Grades 5+.
Fleischman has done an amazingly clever retelling of the Trojan War. His introduction states that: Though their tale comes from the distant Bronze Age, it's as current as this morning's headlines. He then makes visual parallels through newspaper collages throughout the book. Priam regretfully orders that his newborn son be abandoned on a mountain top because of a prophecy that the child will bring destruction to Troy. On the facing page we see a newspaper clipping about a baby found abandoned in a dumpster. (On a previous page a clipping tells of the Reagan's use of an astrologist.) As we revisit the interaction of gods and mortals and witness the heroism, cowardice and terrible carnage of the Greeks and Trojans, clippings tell of the massacre at My Lai, the build up for World War II, and the draft lottery. Always the connection between ancient and modern events is clear but seldom predictable.
There is a more extensive review of Dateline: Troy with activities in the book review section of our site.
**Hobbs, Will. Kokopelli's Flute. (Atheneum, 1995 ISBN 0-689-31974-6) Novel. 148 pages. Grades 4+.
This is a mystical novel of transformation. Tepary, named after a hardy kind of bean, lives with his parents in the four corners area of New Mexico. His mother is researching packrat droppings. His father is planting and keeping alive old varieties of corn, beans and squash. When one of the ancient cliff dwellings is savaged by pot-stealers, Tepary comes upon an ancient flute during an eclipse of the moon and blows upon it. From that moment, he is transformed each night into a pack rat. At about the same time a very wise Indian arrives and we soon begin to suspect that he is Kokopelli, the ancient flute player. We also learn that he is the person who has been anonymously supplying Tepary's father with obscure and ancient seeds. Then Tep's mother falls ill with the hantavirus and he needs both human and rat form to help her.
**Christelow, Eileen. What Do Authors Do? (Clarion, 1995 ISBN 0-395-71124-X) 32 pages. Grades 2+.
This delightful vehicle shows two books from creative idea to publication party. Two neighboring authors witness a scene between a dog and a cat (their pets). One is inspired to write a novel and the other, a picture book. We witness the creative struggles, the submission and acceptance and then the steps the book takes from manuscript to publication. The dog and the cat offer side comments and humor relief.
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