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Gr. 7-10. Even readers who don't like sf will be drawn to a hero who has a sense of humour 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 foetid 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." Hazel Rochman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Before becoming a writer, Nancy Farmer lived in Africa, and her work there included monitoring water weeds in Mozambique and helping to control tsetse flies in Zimbabwe. Since then, she has earned a host of prestigious awards for her writing, including three Newbery Honors for THE EAR, THE EYE AND THE ARM; A GIRL NAMED DISASTER; and THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION. She lives in Menlo Park, California, with her husband. Visit her online at www.nancyfarmerwebsite.com.
* "Weaving African tribal language and lore . . . 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." --KIRKUS, starred review* "This tale overflows with wise insights, lessons and observations about the ties between heritage and family." --PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review* "In its fundamental suspense and appeal the book bears an odd but satisfying resemblance to The Wizard of Oz--witches, scarecrows, and all." --THE BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S BOOKS, starred review