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Almond, David. The Fire-Eaters.

ALMOND, David. The Fire-Eaters. Random House, Yearling. 218p. c2003.0-440-42012-1. $5.99. J

To quote from the review of the audiobook in KLIATT, May 2005: In a slice-of-life novel, Bobby Burns, age 12 in 1962, tells of life in a small English town at a disquieting time. He and his mother, on holiday, encounter a fire-eating "escapologist," a troubled man his father recalls from Burma in WW II. His father appears mortally ill with a condition the doctors cannot diagnose. The family is poor, as are their friends; the future looks unpromising. The Cuban missile crisis crowds the television news, presaging world destruction. Because he is working class, Bobby encounters discrimination at the Catholic school that had seemed to hold out such hope. He is expelled when he helps an upper-class student expose a vicious discipline authority. Yet, a biology teacher (who gets him reinstated) creates excitement in learning, and Bobby has supportive friends and a beach at which to hang out.

Almond's other books for young people have won high awards (and this novel in hardcover has been named a 2005 ALA Best Book for YAs and won the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year Award), but this reviewer believes that most young people, especially in America where the setting and characters are basically unfamiliar, will find the book difficult to read. Edna Boardman, Libn., Bismarck, ND
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Author:Boardman, Edna
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2006
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