Paper Bird: A Novel of South Africa

Maretha Maartens, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $13.95 (148p) ISBN 978-0-395-56490-5
Food and housing are hard to come by in the black South African township of Phameng. And when his father is killed, young Adam must become a monna (man) early and find a way to feed his four siblings and pregnant mother. In order to work in the neighboring city selling newspapers, Adam travels a treacherous road dotted with armed soldiers and greedy hoodlums, never quite sure if he'll make it back home. Adam's story begins as a muffled cry for help but, fueled by his passionate determination, it eventually burns with an intensity that cannot be ignored. Maarten's account of the desperate situations created by the social injustice of her homeland is striking and painful. Her narrative's charged emotion and suspense more than compensate for a shortage of action. Although the English translation(from Afrikaans) is stiff and formal in places, sophisticated readers will enjoy the smattering of foreign terms, helped along by the book's short glossary. Ages 9-12. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
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