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Song and Dance Man
by Stephen Gammell
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780679819950 In this Caldecott winner, Grandpa relives his vaudeville days for an adoring audience--his grandchildren. Ages 3-7. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
by Laura Hillenbrand
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781400064168 The author of Seabiscuit now brings us a biography of World War II prisoner of war survivor Louis Zamperini (b. 1917). A track athlete at the 1936 Munich Olympics, Zamperini became a B-24 crewman in the U.S. Army Air Force. When his plane went down in the Pacific in 1943, he spent 47 days in a life raft, then was picked up by a Japanese ship and survived starvation and torture in labor camps. Eventually repatriated, he had a spiritual rebirth and returned to Japan to promote forgiveness and healing. Because of the author's popularity, libraries will want this book both for general readers who like a good story and for World War II history buffs; however, it's not essential reading for those who read Zamperini's autobiography, Devil at My Heels, with David Rensin, in its 2003 edition. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/10.] (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781400064168 From the 1936 Olympics to WWII Japan's most brutal POW camps, Hillenbrand's heart-wrenching new book is thousands of miles and a world away from the racing circuit of her bestselling Seabiscuit. But it's just as much a page-turner, and its hero, Louie Zamperini, is just as loveable: a disciplined champion racer who ran in the Berlin Olympics, he's a wit, a prankster, and a reformed juvenile delinquent who put his thieving skills to good use in the POW camps, In other words, Louie is a total charmer, a lover of life-whose will to live is cruelly tested when he becomes an Army Air Corps bombardier in 1941. The young Italian-American from Torrance, Calif., was expected to be the first to run a four-minute mile. After an astonishing but losing race at the 1936 Olympics, Louie was hoping for gold in the 1940 games. But war ended those dreams forever. In May 1943 his B-24 crashed into the Pacific. After a record-breaking 47 days adrift on a shark-encircled life raft with his pal and pilot, Russell Allen "Phil" Phillips, they were captured by the Japanese. In the "theater of cruelty" that was the Japanese POW camp network, Louie landed in the cruelest theaters of all: Omori and Naoetsu, under the control of Corp. Mutsuhiro Watanabe, a pathologically brutal sadist (called the Bird by camp inmates) who never killed his victims outright-his pleasure came from their slow, unending torment. After one beating, as Watanabe left Louie's cell, Louie saw on his face a "soft languor.... It was an expression of sexual rapture." And Louie, with his defiant and unbreakable spirit, was Watanabe's victim of choice. By war's end, Louie was near death. When Naoetsu was liberated in mid-August 1945, a depleted Louie's only thought was "I'm free! I'm free! I'm free!" But as Hillenbrand shows, Louie was not yet free. Even as, returning stateside, he impulsively married the beautiful Cynthia Applewhite and tried to build a life, Louie remained in the Bird's clutches, haunted in his dreams, drinking to forget, and obsessed with vengeance. In one of several sections where Hillenbrand steps back for a larger view, she writes movingly of the thousands of postwar Pacific PTSD sufferers. With no help for their as yet unrecognized illness, Hillenbrand says, "there was no one right way to peace; each man had to find his own path...." The book's final section is the story of how, with Cynthia's help, Louie found his path. It is impossible to condense the rich, granular detail of Hillenbrand's narrative of the atrocities committed (one man was exhibited naked in a Tokyo zoo for the Japanese to "gawk at his filthy, sore-encrusted body") against American POWs in Japan, and the courage of Louie and his fellow POWs, who made attempts on Watanabe's life, committed sabotage, and risked their own lives to save others. Hillenbrand's triumph is that in telling Louie's story (he's now in his 90s), she tells the stories of thousands whose suffering has been mostly forgotten. She restores to our collective memory this tale of heroism, cruelty, life, death, joy, suffering, remorselessness, and redemption. (Nov.) -Reviewed by Sarah F. Gold (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781400064168 A second book by the author of Seabiscuit (2001) would get noticed, even if it weren't the enthralling and often grim story of Louie Zamperini. An Olympic runner during the 1930s, he flew B-24s during WWII. Taken prisoner by the Japanese, he endured a captivity harsh even by Japanese standards and was a physical and mental wreck at the end of the war. He was saved by the influence of Billy Graham, who inspired him to turn his life around, and afterward devoted himself to evangelical speeches and founding boys' camps. Still alive at 93, Zamperini now works with those Japanese individuals and groups who accept responsibility for Japanese mistreatment of POWs and wish to see Japan and the U.S. reconciled. He submitted to 75 interviews with the author as well as contributing a large mass of personal records. Fortunately, the author's skills are as polished as ever, and like its predecessor, this book has an impossible-to-put-down quality that one commonly associates with good thrillers. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This departure from the author's previous best-seller will nevertheless be promoted as necessary reading for the many folks who enjoyed the first one or its movie version.--Green, Roland Copyright 2010 Booklist
by Phyllis Reynolds Taylor
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780689316142 In the tradition of Sounder and Where the Red Fern Grows comes this boy-and-his-dog story set in rural West Virginia. When he finds a mistreated beagle pup, 11-year-old Marty knows that the animal should be returned to its rightful owner. But he also realizes that the dog will only be further abused. So he doesn't tell his parents about his discovery, sneaks food for the dog and gets himself into a moral dilemma in trying to do the right thing. Without breaking new ground, Marty's tale is well told, with a strong emphasis on family and religious values. This heartwarming novel should win new fans for the popular Naylor. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780689316142 Gr. 4-8. In the West Virginia hill country, folks mind each other's privacy and personal rights, a principle that is respected in 11-year-old Marty Preston's family and reinforced by a strict code of honor--no lying, cheating, or taking what isn't yours. When a beagle he names Shiloh follows him home, Marty painfully learns that right and wrong are not always black and white. Marty's dad realizes that the beagle is Judd Travers' new hunting dog and insists they return Shiloh to his rightful owner, even though they both know that Judd keeps his dogs chained and hungry to make them more eager hunters. Sure enough, Judd claims the dog and greets him with a hard kick to his scrawny sides. Marty worries about Shiloh being abused and makes plans to buy the dog . . . if Judd will sell him. Then Shiloh runs away again, and Marty secretly shelters the dog, beginning a chain of lies as he takes food and covers his tracks. Though troubled about deceiving his family, Marty reasons, "a lie don't seem a lie anymore when it's meant to save a dog." The West Virginia dialect richly seasons the true-to-life dialogue. Even when the Prestons care for Shiloh after he is nearly killed by another dog, Mr. Preston insists Shiloh be returned to Judd if he recovers; however, Marty makes a deal with the malicious Judd to earn Shiloh for his own. Not until the final paragraph can readers relax--every turn of the plot confronts them with questions. Like Marty, readers gain understanding, though not acceptance, of Judd's tarnished character. Fueled by the love and trust of Shiloh, Marty displays a wisdom and strength beyond his years. Naylor offers a moving and powerful look at the best and the worst of human nature as well as the shades of gray that color most of life's dilemmas. ~--Ellen Mandel
School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780689316142 Gr 4-6-- Marty Preston, 11, is a country boy who learns that things are often not what they seem, and that adults are not always ``fair'' in their dealings with other people. Marty finds a stray dog that seems to be abused and is determined to keep it at all costs. Because his family is very poor, without money to feed another mouth, his parents don't want any pets. Subsequently, there is a lot of conflict over the animal within the family and between Marty and Judd Travers, the dog's owner. Honesty and personal relations are both mixed into the story. Naylor has again written a warm, appealing book. However, readers may have difficulty understanding some of the first-person narration as it is written in rural West Virginian dialect. Marty's father is a postman--usually one of the better paying positions in rural areas--yet the family is extremely poor. There seems to be an inconsistency here. This title is not up to Naylor's usual high quality. --Kenneth E. Kowen, Atascocita Middle School Library, Humble, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.