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Children's Literature Reviews
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A hand full of stars
by Rafik Schami ; translated from the German by Rika Lesser.
New York : Dutton Children's Book, 1990.
195 p. ; 22 cm.

Annotations:

Translation of: Eine Hand voller Sterne.
A teenager who wants to be a journalist in a suppressed society describes to his diary his daily life in his hometown of Damascus, Syria.

Best Books:

Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for PreK-Grade 6, Tenth Edition, 1993 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Eleventh Edition, 1992 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Kirkus Book Review Stars, 1990 ; United States
Notable Children's Books, 1991 ; Association for Library Service to Children; United States
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 1991 ; American Library Association; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

Mildred L. Batchelder Award, 1991 Winner United States

Reviews:

CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 1990)
Mid-twentieth century Damascus, Syria, is the locale of an autobiographical novel detailing four years of a youth's growth to adulthood. When told by his greatly admired "Uncle" Schami "... I have experienced so much that was important ... If I had learned to write, I would have the power to preserve the mountains, fields, and valleys, and every thorn on the stem of a rose ...", the high-spirited 14-year-old narrator secures a journal, thinking of his writing as a personal rearview mirror. His secret journal entries prove him to be forward-looking, too, and they mature throughout the book, just as he does. He experiences the boredom of labor, and he becomes involved in a romantic relationship; he observes the impacts of political oppression and censorship. After witnessing his journalistic mentor's efforts, he assumes a leadership role in putting out a subversive underground newspaper. Several types of courage are exhibited within writing rich in characterization, full of dialogue and memorable in setting. Specifics about the hot, dusty region in which the story takes place and details about the culture of poverty where an education cannot be taken for granted interlace an impressive, award-winning book first published in Germany and subsequently translated into more than ten languages. CCBC categories: Fiction For Teenagers; Issues In Today's World; History, People And Places. 1990, Dutton, 195 pages, $14.95. Ages 12 and older.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1990)
First published in 1987 in Germany (where Schami now lives), an award-winning novel in the form of the journal of an unnamed boy growing up in Schami's native Damascus. In brief incidents, directly told, the narrator grows from a schoolboy of 14 to a promising journalistic rebel three years later. Compelled to leave the school he loves (despite the varying competence of its teachers) and to do a man's grueling work in his father's bakery, the boy never gives up his dream of becoming a journalist. Eventually, he is able to change jobs and work for a bookstore; meanwhile, his first poems have been published in a collection of student work and he and his friends have needled their vicious police state with several acts, culminating in an underground newspaper distributed as stuffing in socks sold in the marketplace. In a country where violent changes of government are almost as commonplace as capricious arrests (both the boy's father and his mentor, a journalist who gives up his career in despair, are imprisoned and tortured without cause), hope survives in the talented young people here and in the adults who are wonderfully characterized in revealing incidents--especially the boy's wise, sensible mother and his close friend, an illiterate old man whose splendid stories illuminate many a circumstance. A crystalline window into the many-faceted world of the Middle East. 1990, Dutton, $14.95. Starred Review. © 1990 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
This unusual novel, written in the form of a diary, tells the story of four years in the life of a Damascan boy. When he begins his account, the narrator spends his days playing with his friends and dreaming of becoming a journalist. Like many American boys, the diarist worries about his schoolwork and his girlfriend, but he must also cope with difficulties unfamiliar to his American contemporaries. Military coups are frequent occurrences and many of the neighborhood men have been sent to jail on the slimmest of pretexts. Taken out of school to work in his father's bakery, the boy finds another way to pursue his ambition by starting an underground newspaper. This multifaceted work is at once a glimpse into a different culture, a plea for the right to free speech and a highly readable tale, as full of fun as it is of melancholy. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)

Subjects:

Diaries--Fiction.
Syria--Fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.S3337 Han 1990
89025991 [Fic]
0525445358 : $14.95
9780525445357
978-0-525-44535-7
0525445358
9780525445357
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