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McCaughrean, Geraldine. Not the end of the world.

McCAUGHREAN, Geraldine. Not the end of the world. HarperTempest. 244p. c2004. 0-06076032-X. $6.99. JS*

To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 2005: When I read the story of Noah's ark to my son when he was little, his first question was: why did God destroy so many animals; were they bad too? This kind of skepticism is at the heart of McCaughrean's treatment of the famous story of the ark, the flood, the destruction of all living things (except those in the ark) because God was disgusted with creation and wanted to start over. She has made Noah a religious fanatic, convinced of his righteousness, with the two older sons, Ham and Shem, caught up in their own madness. The third son quietly takes over the care of the animals in the ark, nurturing them. The heroine of the tale is Noah's daughter Timna, who loves her father and wants him to be right, but in her heart she doubts everything. As the family sails mercilessly past the dead and dying people caught in the flood, Timna finds a chance to save a boy and his baby sister, and she hides them with the animals. She just can't believe it's righteous to ignore people in need.

The details of the care of the animals, the cold and damp conditions, the claustrophobia, are described with McCaughrean's great skill. She develops the adult characters with the same care as the adolescents in the story (as she did in The Kite Rider). She has won awards for The Kite Rider and this story is equally marvelous. Religious fundamentalists who want to believe the story of Noah's ark as it is written in the Bible will squirm at McCaughrean's treatment; but the questions raised, as Timna struggles to understand the disaster happening all around her, trying to reconcile it with her saintly father's certainty that he knows the will of God, are valid questions, which only reflect her intelligence and righteousness. Living as we do these days in a world awash with zealots who are convinced (like Noah) that God wills the destruction of those judged ungodly, this story takes on a whole level of meaning relevant to our times. Claire Rosser, KLIATT

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

*--The asterisk highlights exceptional books.
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Author:Rosser, Claire
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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