Thursday, June 2, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [kids]

These reviews appeared in the Stratford Gazette on June 2, 2011 
Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian

Unsinkable, by Gordon Korman, 170 pages.

As the “unsinkable” ship, the Titanic, steams across the Atlantic Ocean en route to New York City, it carries hundreds of passengers who are excited and delighted to be on the world’s largest and most luxurious liner, a veritable “floating city”.
Four young people, however, are not enjoying the voyage.
The first is Paddy, a stowaway, who had hoped to escape the clutches of a ruthless gang by crossing the Atlantic. Unfortunately, he has discovered that two of the gangsters are on the ship. Alfie, a steward on the Titanic, has lied about his age to get his job, which he needs. He fears the truth may be discovered at any time. Sophie is constantly embarrassed by her mother’s loud, aggressive speeches about women’s rights, and Juliana is trying to keep secret her aristocratic father’s too-frequent gambling and drinking.
The four young people, from very different backgrounds, come together through circumstance. Then they make a fearsome discovery:  Jack the Ripper could be on the Titanic!
Gordon Korman has written about 55 books, mostly for boys, and has a large number of fans who have thoroughly enjoyed his captivating adventure novels and humorous stories.  
Unsinkable – the first title in a trilogy about the Titanic and its passengers – is Korman’s first work of historical fiction. Books # 2 and 3, which will continue the exciting story of Paddy, Alfie, Sophie and Juliana, will be published later this year.
** Recommended for ages 9 to 13 years.

The Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosemary Sutcliff, 210 pages.

Released earlier this year as a motion picture entitled The Eagle, Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novel, The Eagle of the Ninth,was first published in 1954. Since then, it has never been out of print.
In 117 A.D., the Roman Commander Flavius Aquila led 5000 soldiers of the Ninth Legion on a mission to the north of Britain – a region then unknown to Rome. They were never heard from again, and their treasured Eagle standard never surfaced. Twenty years later, the commander’s son, Marcus, retraces the Ninth’s march to learn its fate, retrieve the Eagle standard, and restore his father’s honour. It is an infinitely dangerous quest.
Taking only a friend, Esca, with him, Marcus disguises himself as an eye doctor and travels far beyond Hadrian’s Wall into the wilds of Scotland, where he encounters the same northern tribes which had annihilated his father’s legion in battle. At last, he is able to find some answers – and the Eagle. At the same time, he finds himself in terrible danger. Escape seems impossible.
Two sequels, The Silver Branch and The Lantern Bearers, continue the story of Marcus in a suspenseful trilogy which is made remarkably realistic by the wealth of detail about second-century military and religious customs, clothing, food and medical practices.
Author Rosemary Sutcliff (1920 – 1992) composed stories which transport the reader back in time. Her incredibly detailed fiction, set against the backdrop of the Roman occupation of Britain, the Dark Ages, or the time of King Arthur, has enthralled readers of ages 9 to 90 years for many years.
In this reviewer’s opinion, Sutcliff, who did not learn to read until she was 9 years of age and spent most of her life in a wheelchair, was one of the most accomplished children’s authors of all time.

** Recommended for ages 10 to 13 years.

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