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Little Soldier Hardcover – March 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (March 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439224241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439224246
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,242,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This timely, meticulously orchestrated contemporary tale set in London demands patience and a high level of maturity. Initially, readers may have trouble warming up to its two thick-skinned protagonists. Some may also be put off by the book's slow-moving plot, unfolded as a string of seemingly disconnected violent acts occurring in two separate continents. However, those who are persistent will be rewarded for their effort. Ashley (Cleversticks) proceeds to draw parallels between political conflict and street warfare while revealing the growing camaraderie between Kaninda and Laura, two "little soldiers" fighting different battles. Kaninda, a refugee from a war-torn African country (fictitious, but modeled on Zaire), believes that he will find peace only after he returns to his homeland and avenges the slaughter of his family. Meanwhile, Laura, his rebellious foster sister, is striving to find forgiveness for her part in a serious hit-and-run accident, and believes that redemption will come if she follows Kaninda to Africa. As the teens become peripherally involved in street-gang activities, they struggle to find salvation from the wars raging within. Readers are forced to take a long hard look at the tragic causes and effects of violence before judging the characters' actions. Ages 14-up.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7-10-Kaninda Bulumba's country and tribe are fictitious but his circumstances, quest, and spirit are achingly real. The sole survivor of a Yusulu massacre that left his parents and baby sister dead, Kaninda joins the Kibu rebels in his native Lasai and learns their code of stealth, fearlessness, and loyalty. Hiding in a ditch after his band is attacked, the boy is discovered by U.N. forces, turned over to the Red Cross, and, subsequently, to Captain Betty Rose, a zealous but kind God's Force missionary. He is flown to London where he lives with Rose, her husband, and their daughter, Laura, a girl about his age. His new home is an apartment complex along the Thames where gangs vie for turf and Laura's role in Junior God's Force does not shield her from peer pressure and adolescent impulses. When she and her friend Theo joyride in his brother's car, they are involved in a hit-and-run accident that seriously injures a neighborhood girl and ultimately sparks a gang war. Despite his focus on returning to his homeland and avenging his family, Kaninda is caught up in Laura's struggle. His story is both tragic and hopeful. As he flashes back to events in Africa, his emotional and psychological pain are revealed. He and Laura become soul mates, learning from one another that people must accept moral responsibility for their actions and that true loyalty is based on understanding and not blind allegiance. With a sharp eye and ear for nuances of dialect and culture, Ashley has created a rich, multiracial cast of characters. The descriptions of the young people's inner turmoil reveal the contradictions, torment, and vulnerability they feel.
Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laura Lynn Walsh on March 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This books almost makes it as a compelling tale of an orphaned youth who is rescued from tribal war in Africa and taken to a "better life" in England. His anger and resolve are contrasted to clan/gang rivalry in England. The premise and story line of the book are both fine. The problem comes from the confusion of details. The reader is never quite sure who belongs to what group and why they do what they do. There just isn't enough development. I never got enough from any of the characters to really care about them as much as I wanted to.
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