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Children's Literature Reviews
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The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm : a novel
by Nancy Farmer.
New York : Orchard Books, c1994.
311 p. ; 23 cm.


"A Richard Jackson book"--T.p. verso.
In 2194 in Zimbabwe, General Matsika's three children are kidnapped and put to work in a plastic mine while three mutant detectives use their special powers to search for them.

Best Books:

Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Thirteenth Edition, 1997 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Books in the Middle: Outstanding Books, 1994 ; Voice of Youth Advocates; United States
Books to Read Aloud to Children of All Ages, 2003 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
Bulletin Blue Ribbons, 1994 ; Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books; United States
Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Children's Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Kids Reading List, 2008 ; Oprah/ALSC; The Classics; United States
Kirkus Book Review Stars, 1994 ; United States
Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Notable Children's Books, 1995 ; Association for Library Service to Children; United States
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, April 1994 ; Cahners; United States
School Library Journal: Best Books for Young Adults, 1994 ; Cahners; United States
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 1995 ; American Library Association; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

Golden Duck Award for Excellence in Children's Science Fiction Literature, 1995 Winner Hal Clement Award for Young Adults United States
Golden Kite Award, 1995 Honor Book Fiction United States
John Newbery Medal, 1995 Honor Book United States
Parents' Choice Award, 1994 Gold Fiction United States
Parents' Choice Award, 2003 Gold Best 25 Books in 25 Years United States

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Great Stone Face Award, 1996-1997 ; Nominee; New Hampshire
Virginia State Young Readers' Award, 1998 ; Nominee; Middle School Level, Grades 6-9; Virginia

Reading Measurement Programs:

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Upper Grade
Book Level 4.7
Accelerated Reader Points 12
Accelerated Vocabulary

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 6-8
Reading Level 6
Title Point Value 19
Lexile Measure 660


Hazel Rochman (Booklist, Apr. 1, 1994 (Vol. 90, No. 15))
Even readers who don't like sf will be drawn to a hero who has a sense of humor about his serious mission. In Zimbabwe in the year 2194, the military ruler's 13-year-old son and his younger brother and sister leave their technologically overcontrolled home and find themselves on a series of perilous adventures. Tendai and his siblings encounter mile-high buildings and other miracles of scientific advance; they also find fetid slums and toxic waste dumps. As they're kidnapped by gangsters, forced to slave in a plastic mine, and accused of witchcraft, they're pursued by mutant detectives, who are both bumbling and sensitive and who always seem to be just one step behind rescuing the children. In the best section, the siblings find themselves in a traditional Shona village that at first seems idyllic but turns out to also encompass fierce sexism, ignorance, and disease. Throughout the story, it's the thrilling adventure that will grab readers, who will also like the comic, tender characterizations, not only of the brave, defiant trio and the absurd detectives, but also of nearly every one the kids meet, from street gangsters and spiritual healers to the English tribespeople with their weird customs. Tendai's spiritual coming-of-age is the least interesting part of the novel, but teens will like this teenager with "a hot line to the spirit world." Category: Older Readers. 1994, Orchard/Richard Jackson, $17.95 and $17.99. Gr. 7-10.

Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature)
Set in the future in Zimbabwe, Tendai and her siblings are kidnapped off the streets of Harare. Hot on their trail are three unusual detectives each with a unique ability--hearing, sight, and insight. A fast paced, adventure with lots of suspense and plot twists to keep readers fully engrossed, this heroic myth based on the Shona culture is hard to put down. A Newbery Honor Book. 1994, Orchard, $18.95, $19.99 and $4.99. Ages 12 up.

CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 1994)
When the three children of General Amadeus Matsika connive their way out of their high-security home, they are looking for change and excitement. They find it, but the ordeal of being kidnapped provides more than they had expected. Moving from an ancient toxic waste dump, to Resthaven, where people attempt to live in the ways of long ago, to the hideout of a powerful street gang in the Mile-High MacIlwaine Hotel, the children are always one step ahead of the trio of mutant detectives--the Ear, the Eye, and the Arm--who are following their trail in the hopes of rescuing them. Set in Zimbabwe in the year 2194, this complex, action-filled adventure of the future combines elements of science fiction with Shona mythology and a running sense of humor. Honor Book, 1994 CCBC Newbery Award Discussion. CCBC categories: Fiction For Children; Fiction For Teenagers. 1994, A Richard Jackson Book / Orchard, 311 pages, $18.95. Ages 10-14.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1994)
An author who lived for years in Africa follows a comic, well-received first novel set in present-day Mozambique (Do You Know Me, 1993) with this marvelous odyssey across Zimbabwe 200 years in the future. Tendai, 13, his sister Rita, and their little brother Kuda escape their luxurious home to explore their perilous city; Tendai's immediate aim is earning a scouting badge, but his need to prove himself -- as his protective father, Chief of Security Masika, hasn't allowed him to do -- is also compelling. Exploring seamy "Cow's Guts," these innocents are snapped up by the vast "She Elephant" who presides over the mines in Dead Man's Vlei, where society's dregs scavenge toxic waste for now-rare plastics. Escaping, they find their way to the walled enclave of Resthaven, where traditional tribal ways are preserved, bad with good ("You can't yank out part of the pattern and not damage the rest"); and then to a treacherous old Englishwoman. Meanwhile, the three are tracked by three eponymous detectives, whose folkloric talents are ascribed to the effects of a toxic environment. Weaving African tribal language and lore (notes and glossary appended) into a rich tapestry featuring a witty projection of the future, a score of vividly realized characters, and a nonstop adventure culminating in a denouement that's at once taut, comic, and touching, Farmer has created a splendidly imaginative fantasy, just right to pair with Lowry's darker vision of control and freedom (The Giver, 1993). 1994, Orchard, $17.95; PLB $17.99. Starred Review. © 1994 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Picking up where she left off in her highly successful debut, Do You Know Me, Farmer uses her knowledge of Africa to imagine a city in 23rd-century Zimbabwe, combining old traditions and speculative technology with delightfully entertaining results. In search of adventure, 13-year-old Tendai, his sister Rita and younger brother Kuda, the sheltered offspring of a maniacally rigid military general, break out of the family compound. The three are promptly kidnapped by the monstrous She Elephant, an ogre who lords over an abandoned toxic waste dump and forces its denizens to mine obsolete plastic products. They finally escape, but are captured anew and imprisoned in Resthaven, a cloistered community where the ancient African spiritual and farming traditions are practiced to the exclusion of all things modern. Meanwhile, the beleaguered general hires the Ear, the Eye and the Arm, three decidedly odd detectives who take advantage of their hyperdeveloped senses and features (the result of a nuclear accident) to track down the children. The madcap game of chase and escape clips along as the author plies her playful, sly sense of humor on a wonderfully silly cast of secondary characters, spirits and Jetsonian gadgets. This tale overflows with wise insights, lessons and observations about the ties between heritage and family. Farmer is emerging as one of the best and brightest authors for the YA audience. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)

Roger Sutton (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March 1994 (Vol. 47, No. 7))
Pretty nervy these days, to set a science-fantasy novel in a Mad-Max-like Zimbabwe, 2194, particularly when the two main villainesses are a big black slavedriver named the She Elephant and a dotty, white, postmodern colonialist named Mrs. Horsepool-Worthingham, both splendidly drawn. Tendai, Rita, and little Kuda, the three children of the General, are kidnapped by the She Elephant's minions when they venture one day into the dangerous streets of Harare. The children's worried parents consult an unorthodox, semi-bumbling, and anatomically mutated detective trio (the Ear, Eye, and Arm of the title), and the chase is on, with the detectives always just one step behind the kids as they fall into and out of the She Elephant's clutches. The adventure is grand and whole-hearted, its heroics sometimes cut down to size by the ironic tone into which the book occasionally dips. Farmer has wisely considered what the passage of two centuries might bring, with her future Zimbabwe a place of grimy street life, high-rise glamor, and a simultaneous vision of apocalypse (in the toxic-wasted vlei that is the She Elephant's stronghold) and fundamentalist paradise (in Resthaven, where the "old ways" are preserved, both food-gathering and witch-baiting). There's a big and busy cast of characters, but Farmer expertly maintains the pace as she cuts from kids to cops, hunter to hunted, and home to away and back again. While the landscape is mostly bleak and the atmosphere often ominous, in its fundamental suspense and appeal the book bears an odd but satisfying resemblance to The Wizard of Oz-witches, scarecrows, and all. R*--Highly recommended as a book of special distinction. Reviewed from galleys (c) Copyright 1994, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1994, Jackson/Orchard, [320p], $17.99 and $17.95. Grades 7-12.


Science fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.F23814 Ear 1994
93011814 [Fic]
0531068293 $18.95
0531086798 (lib. bdg.)
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