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Markus Zusak is the award-winning author of The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger, both Michael L. Printz Honor Books. An international bestseller, The Book Thief has sold over 4.5 million copies in the U.S. alone and has garnered worldwide critical acclaim. The New York Times called it "Brilliant and hugely ambitious. . . . It's the kind of book that can be life changing," and The Guardian (UK) said, "Unsettling, thought-provoking, life-affirming, triumphant and tragic, this is a novel of breathtaking scope, masterfully told. It is an important piece of work, but also a wonderful page-turner." Markus Zusak is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens. He lives with his wife and children in Sydney, Australia. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Zusak's When Dogs Cry was an honour book in the `older readers' category of this year's CBCA children's book of the year awards. Whilst this new novel-a parable for the Two Hands generation-may also please the CBC judges, its main appeal may well be to a readership who would probably die rather than be seen in the children's section of a bookshop or library: young adult males. Zusak knows his readership well, and this is one book you could safely recommend to anyone looking for a book for 15-25 year-olds who aren't regular readers. Ed Kennedy, an amiable yet aimless young taxi driver, finds his drab life taking a unusual turn after he is innocently caught up in a bank hold-up. A habitual card player, Ed starts receiving anonymously-sent playing cards which urge him to act as a reluctant latter-day `ministering angel' in his community. His good deeds are sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant, as he undergoes a transformation from nobody to somebody. In the wrong hands this kind of material could be unbearable, but Zusak portrays the expectations, lifestyle and concerns of his young characters with utter authenticity. Ed and his friends become real for us, and we follow their progress, and the unravelling of the mystery (who is sending the messages, and why?) with an interest that builds and builds. The last laugh is on us: Zusak conjours a delightful post-modern ending which few will see coming. The Messenger merits support for its attempt to reach a largely untapped readership. It also happens to be a great read. Andrew Wilkins is the editor of AB&P. C. 2002 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors