Thursday, April 20, 2006

Gentle Ben and Countdown, etc.

Morey's Gentle Ben (1965) was a very serviceable and engaging story which will be great for my animal adventure and Jim Kjelgaard fans. A little schmaltzy, but then the animal stories where the animal does die are so depressing. This story is a little vacation to the wilds of Alaska, and wonderfully undated.

Ben Mikaelsen's Countdown(1996) will be a little harder sell, but has such an interesting premise. A young American boy is chosen to go up in space; in a parallel story, a young Maasi boy is yearning for an education. I really couldn't see how the two were going to meet up, but they end up talking on a Ham radio when the shuttle passes over Kenya. A tiny bit forced, with their discussions of their different ways of life, but an interesting idea that people really can be very much alike even though their lives are very different. Will get both of these into someone's hands today.

I normally really like Gloria Miklowitz, but The Emerson High Vigilantes (1988)was disturbing, and not in a good way. Sure, it's nice that the students want to improve their school and save it from drug pushers and whatnot, and it's great that the author ends the book with questioning whether they should have tried to accomplish this is the way they did, but ultimately this failed for me because the vigilantes were no better than the people they were trying to punish, and they didn't suffer enough for their own acts. The students will probably love it, although it's been sitting neglected on the shelf a while. Dated cover art.

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