Monday, March 7, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [kids]

These reviews appeared in the Stratford Gazette on March 3, 2011
Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian

This World We Live In, by Susan Beth Pfeffer, 239 pages.
@ SPL:  YA FIC Pfeff
There is no doubt that “this world” – that of Miranda Evans, her brothers and her mother – isn’t our world. There’s also no doubt that readers will be very grateful for this.
Since a meteor collided with the moon a year ago, the earth’s climate has changed drastically. Now the land is frozen and cannot support crops. Food is very scarce. Many of Miranda’s friends, classmates and neighbours are dead. Essential services, such as hospitals and medical clinics, are no longer available. Miranda and her two brothers scavenge daily for food, medical items and other things. Their mother appears rooted in the past, rarely leaving the house, unable to acknowledge the horrific changes which have happened and the challenges that remain.
Miranda’s stark existence is both brightened and complicated by the return of her father, along with her stepmother and new little stepsister. With them is Alex Moreles and his sister, Julie.
Alex and Miranda find themselves drawn to each other, and over time, they make tentative plans to find a future together. Then a devastating tornado brings a cruel turn of events to their plans and to the future of everyone around them.
Although Pfeffer’s apocalyptic story is grim, it has been beautifully written, told with sensitivity, and peopled with entirely believable – and likeable - characters. It is difficult to put this book down.
This World We Live In was written as a companion novel to Susan Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It and The Dead & the Gone; however, each title can be read individually.
** Recommended for ages 13 to 17 years.



Plain Kate, by Erin Bow, 336 pages.
 @ SPL: YA FIC Bow
Kate, a young wood carver, lives in a medieval world of superstition, fear and magic. She is a talented woodworker, but many villagers suspect, wrongly, that she uses magic in her carving.
After her father dies of fever, they voice their suspicions aloud, wondering if Kate has also caused the deadly plague which is now ravaging the village. As the sickness and the villagers’ outright hostility spread, Kate knows that she must leave. However, she has nowhere to go and no one to help her – until she meets Limay, a witch who is determined to avenge the horrible death of his sister, burned for her powers of witchery.
Now desperate, Kate makes a Faustian deal with Limay. In doing so, she becomes the unwitting mechanism of Limay’s vengeance. When Kate realizes this, she tries to thwart Limay’s witchery, foreseeing the immense damage it will bring to so many people. 
The rich depth of character and the almost-lyrical prose of Plain Kate are just some of the positives of this excellent fantasy novel which is, among other things, a mesmerizing tale of revenge, fear, determination and sacrifice. What happens to people who let fear determine their actions? What happens when a person lets a wish for revenge dictate their actions, regardless of the consequences to others?
Erin Bow is a Kitchener-Waterloo writer who is also an award-winning poet under her maiden name, Erin Noteboom.
** Recommended for ages 12 to 16 years.

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