Fall-Out: 9

Gudrun Pausewang, Author, Patricia Crampton, Translator Viking Children's Books $13.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-670-86104-0
This German novel about a nuclear disaster certainly makes a strong impression, but it is more sensational than sensitive in tackling urgent social issues. Janna, the 14-year-old heroine, becomes one of thousands of orphans and refugees when a catastrophic accident occurs at a nuclear power plant. In the terrifying opening sequences, Janna and her younger brother, Uli, set off by bicycle to escape the ominous ``cloud'' blowing in their direction: they pedal madly alongside stalled traffic, vehicles filled with panicked people who have evacuated their homes. Uli falls off his bike into the path of an oncoming car and, in a characteristically unflinching passage, the reader learns that his head, ``half shrouded by the cap, lay strangely flattened, in a pool of blood which was visibly widening.'' Many elements of Pausewang's apocalyptic scenario reflect distinctly German preoccupations-Janna's grandparents, who also refuse to talk about their experiences in WWII, are abroad at the time of the disaster, and they utterly ignore all the news about it; citizens cannot believe that the government has ordered police and soldiers to gun down certain survivors. This is harsh, frightening fare for young readers, who may also be put off by a decidedly British, often awkward translation. Ages 10-up. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
Hardcover - 160 pages - 978-0-216-94145-8
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