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When Roberto sneaks off to see a movie in his small Italian village, he has no idea that life as he knows it is over. German soldiers raid the theater, round up the boys in the audience, and pack them onto a train. After a terrifying journey, Roberto and his best friend Samuele find themselves in a brutal work camp, where food is scarce but horror is everywhere. The boys vow to stay together no matter what. But Samuele has a dangerous secret, which, if discovered, could get them both killed…
This is a gripping and moving novel set in World War II, of how a young Italian boy and his friends were taken by the Germans and put in labour camps. This is the story of how they endured beatings, starvation, and freezing tempartures, and of how some of them survived.
Interest age: 12+
Salz is a boy afflicted with cystic fibrosis — though in the Middle Ages in Saxony no one can identify it as such. Instead he is an outcast, living with his unfeeling father and superstitious brothers in a hovel outside Hameln. His grandmother has kept Salz alive by having him avoid the mead and beer commonly drunk by all and by teaching him how to clear his lungs.
When the townsfolk of Hameln are affected by a mold that grows on the hops — poisoning their mead and beer — Salz is one of the few who are unaffected. The mold’s effect is hallucinogenic, and soon Hameln is in the grips of a plague of madness, followed by a plague of rats. It is only Salz who can proclaim the truth—although it might cost him his life.
Orasmyn is a young Persian prince with all the privileges and responsibilities his royal position holds. But when he falters and makes a single wrong decision, his pride angers a pari—a fairy—who sets an ancient curse into motion, crucially changing his life on the worst day possible, and forcing him to leave his beloved Persia and his precious family in order to escape death at his father’s unwitting hands. With all the cunning he can muster from his human memories and his new beastly instincts, Orasmyn makes his way to India and back, across Europe to France, in search of redemption and forgiveness. Beast is his story. A French beauty named Belle is his redeemer. And then you know the rest. But this is before the rest. This is the story of Beast.
Here is Beauty and the Beast as only Donna Jo Napoli can tell it. Like a mosaic-tile artisan, she juxtaposes the unexpected—the exotic Middle East and the sensuous France, a courtly prince and a hulking lion, a ferocious beast and an undaunted young woman—and weaves their flavors into her story of Orasmyn’s plight, creating a new classic from the old, an epic that lingers like the scent of a rose.