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Phoenix Rising
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About the Author

Karen Hesse is the author of many books for young people, including Out of the Dust, winner of the Newbery Medal, Letters from Rifka, Brooklyn Bridge, Sable and Lavender. She has received honors including the Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award, the Christopher Award, and the MacArthur Fellowship "Genius" Award, making her only the second children's book author to receive this prestigious grant. Born in Baltimore, Hesse graduated from the University of Maryland. She and her husband Randy live in Vermont.

Reviews

Gr 6-9-A Vermont sheep farm seems an unlikely place to worry about radiation and its effects. However, Nyle Sumner, 13, and her grandmother are completely surrounded by the grotesque results of an accident at a nuclear-power plant. Because of the accident, Nyle's cousin Bethany has radiation poisoning. Then Gran does the unthinkable: she takes in two fugitives who were exposed to the worst of the radiation, Miriam Trent and her son, Ezra, who is also sick with the poisoning. They stay in the back bedroom, the room marked by the death of Nyle's mother and grandfather. Now it seems likely that it will be the place that Ezra dies too. The bleak setting of this book serves as a backdrop for the sensitive interaction among the main characters. Gran quietly acts on her principles, Nyle overcomes her own feelings to help Ezra, and her best friend, Muncie, forgives past wrongs for the sake of friendship. The characters overcome adversity, not through heroic deeds of epic proportions, but through simple acts of kindness. The message is poignant, but not overpowering. Hesse has displayed considerable skill in creating a contemporary tale of hope and love rising, like a phoenix, from destruction and despair.-Marilyn Makowski, Greenwood High School, SC

"After a catastrophic accident at a nuclear power plant not far from their small New England sheep farm, 13-year-old Nyle Sumner and her grandmother slowly discover they have been spared from direct radiation.... The author's understated approach heightens the emotional impact of her searching and memorable tale." --Publishers Weekly, starred review"Hesse transcends the specific to illuminate universal questions of responsibility, care, and love. . . . Hesse portrays her characters' anguish and their growing tenderness with such unwavering clarity and grace that she sustains the tension of her lyrical, understated narrative right to her stunning, beautifully wrought conclusion." --Kirkus Reviews, Pointer"The characters overcome adversity, not through heroic deeds of epic proportions, but through simple acts of kindness. The message is poignant, but not overpowering. Hesse has displayed considerable skill in creating a contemporary tale of hope and love rising, like a phoenix, from destruction and despair." --School Library Journal, Starred Review"Hesse in Phoenix Rising deals with the effects of a leak at a nuclear plant, a young girl's awakening sexuality, the meaning of friendship, the strength of family ties, and the courage to love--and she does this with a grace and power that could make her novel 'a favorite' with younger teens." --Voice of Youth Advocates

After a catastrophic accident at a nuclear power plant not far from their small New England sheep farm, 13-year-old Nyle Sumner and her grandmother slowly discover they have been spared from direct radiation. Gran decides to take in two evacuees, 15-year-old Ezra Trent and his mother, both of whom are severely ill. Nyle, obliged to monitor her surroundings with a radiation detector, wishes there were also some way to measure the Trents' ability to cause her pain: she hasn't entirely recovered from the deaths of her mother and grandfather years earlier, nor from her father's abandonment, and she must overcome her terror of growing attached to the refugees. As if to counteract the potential for sensationalism or dystopic fantasy, Hesse ( Letters from Rifka ) grounds her story with keen observations of the natural world--e.g., Nyle describes training a sheep dog, working in the pasture, farm work (``I like spring . . . when the grass greens up and the lambs come''). She also invests her characters with a certain formality. Nyle and Gran both demonstrate an archetypal New England self-containment and self-sufficiency; Mrs. Trent, raised in Israel and therefore no Yankee, is equally measured and reserved; Ezra, too, rarely voices his feelings. The author's understated approach heightens the emotional impact of her searching and memorable tale. Ages 11-13. (June)

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