Another magical boarding school adventure tale. Midnight for Charlie Bone is very atmospheric (meaning what precisely was happening was somewhat obscuAnother magical boarding school adventure tale. Midnight for Charlie Bone is very atmospheric (meaning what precisely was happening was somewhat obscure at times), which heightened the story's supernatural tone. But as I read, I couldn't help wondering if the author gave the children such off-the-wall magical abilities out of fear that the Harry Potter author would sue her, which detracted from the story. ...more
After the death of her beloved grandfather and loss of their planation to his massive debts, Kit Tyler -- an orphaned Barbados socialite -- arrives onAfter the death of her beloved grandfather and loss of their planation to his massive debts, Kit Tyler -- an orphaned Barbados socialite -- arrives on the doorstep of her aunt, and only living relative, in the colony of Connecticut. Naturally, the Puritans don't take kindly to this Church of England royaltist wearing flashy silks, and after befriending an eldery Quaker woman and a mistreated child, she finds herself accused of witchcraft. ...more
"It is not / on any map / or in any book. / My Vietnam is / only / a pocketful / of broken pieces / I carry / inside me." p. 23
Told in sparse free ver"It is not / on any map / or in any book. / My Vietnam is / only / a pocketful / of broken pieces / I carry / inside me." p. 23
Told in sparse free verse, All the Broken Pieces is the story of Matt, the son of an American soldier who abandoned his native consort at the end of his tour of duty before the birth of their child, who was given up for adoption in the United States by his Vietnamese mother at the close of the Vietnam War.
The medium lends an intensity to the story without lapsing into sentimentality. And I couldn't help thinking "Iraq" every time I read "Vietnam." Matt's life -- like the lives of the veterans he encounters -- are full of broken pieces. He is silently tortured by his memories of Vietnam and plagued by nightmares and the taunts of his classmates who blame him for the Vietnam conflict. He takes solace in baseball and piano lessons afraid that his adoptive parents will send him away if he told them his own war stories.
The ending is not too happy, and things don't wrap up too neatly, which lends to the story's feel of authenticity. His baseball coach's getting cancer is a bit heavy-handed, and the same resolution could have been achieved in a more realistic way, but overall it's an excellent story and easy read.
The one strike against this book is the cover art. It's a marketing disaster on the part of publisher. If a photograph of a torn baseball on a black background was intended to entice boys into picking up All the Broken Pieces, they will put it right back down once they see the subtitle "A NOVEL IN VERSE," and most girls will be deterred from reading this book when they see the cover. A photography of a piano or better yet artistically broken piano keys or a blurred black-and-white image of the Vietnam countryside would have been a much better choice. If this book wins the Newbery Medal, I hope it will be repackaged.
"You cannot stay here . . . Bui Doi" p. 2 Bui Doi literally means "living dust," the children of American soldiers and Vietnamese mothers during the Vietnam War.
"We did not talk about / the American War, / how tanks lumbered / in the roads / like drunken elephants, / and bombs fell / from the sky / like dead crows." p. 19 -- 20
"Jeff's Vietnam / is my Vietnam, / the Vietnam nobody talks about / on Saturday morning." p. 30
"Jeff is slow, patient, / quiet. / But he isn't / an afraid quiet, / like he's looked into / a closet of monsters / and found empty / candy wrappers instead." p. 42
"Music is not like words. / Words are messy. / Words spill out / like splattered blood, / oozing in every direction, / leaving stains / that won't come out / no matter how hard you scrub." p. 129...more