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Not the End of the World Paperback – March 31, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up–McCaughrean moves far beyond cozy picture-book images of arks and animals to what life onboard might really have been like for Noah and family. The monstrous tidal wave that crashes in the first pages sets the scene and puts the huge boat afloat. Although McCaughrean allows both human and animal narrators to offer their perspectives on the ordeal, the main storyteller is Noah's daughter, Timna. Despite Noah's warnings that demons might seek a place onboard, she helps rescue a young boy and his baby sister from drowning. Japheth and his reluctant wife help her care for the children but devote most of their attention to the animals. Shem, convinced of his own righteousness, cares only for his own unborn child and the future glory of his line. The foul air, rotting food, and continuing crises take their toll on all of the creatures trapped in the huge boat. Yet Noah never doubts God's plan or the persistence of miracles. Only his wife, in the presence of the other women, ultimately questions God's reasons and figures out a way to save Timna and the stowaways. Vivid descriptions help readers hear the cries of the drowning and experience the claustrophobia of shipboard life. Distinct voices for humans and animals add to the textual richness. The novel, which won the Whitbread Children's Book Award, raises thought-provoking questions in its expansion and exploration of an ancient tale.–Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-10. Using diverse voices from the ark, McCaughrean offers a story of the voyage that is brutal, physically and mentally, even as some aboard find their humanity. This is not the familiar "two-by-two" vessel. Fetid, filthy, and full of frightened animals, this ark is home to the zealot Noah, his dutiful wife, and his children and in-laws--some angry, some righteous, some who border on insanity. Unbeknownst to most of the voyagers are young Kittem and his baby sister, whom Noah's (unbiblical) daughter, Timna, has smuggled onboard. McCaughrean uses her cast well, letting them voice the many emotions that voyage evokes, with Timna as the steady beacon. A powerfully crafted, uneasy read, this will have the same effect on younger readers as Anne Provoost's In the Shadow of the Ark (2004) had on older ones. Questions^B of spirit, honor, obedience, and obligation are raised here; the answers aren't easily discerned. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (March 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192754327
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192754325
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,628,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jewish Book World Magazine on January 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
If you're looking for a slavish retelling of the Bible story about Noah and the Flood, this book isn't for you. If you're hoping to read a book about pretty rainbows and obedient doves, this isn't for you. But if you want a story that will grip you from the beginning to the end with a realistic cast of human and animal characters, a plot that will keep you on the edge of your chair, and a setting that is both horrific and fascinating, then you must read this masterful book. Timna, Noah's daughter, is the main character and hero. What? You've never heard of her? Was she just another invisible woman from the Bible? Timna herself realizes the truth: " `Shem, Ham, and Japheth: sons of Noah.' They are the only ones who will be mentioned a hundred years from now when people tell our story. I know I won't figure" (p. 2). You must read until the very end to discover Timna's fate.

Timna isn't the only narrator in this book. Her three brothers, their wives, her mother, and even some of the suffering animals tell the tale from their various points of view. Each voice is expressive; each voice has a different cadence and leads us to a deeper understanding of the catastrophe of the Flood. Interestingly, Noah does not tell his side of the story. The author portrays him as a religious fanatic, a monomaniac. She leads us to question whether he is as "blameless" as the Bible story would suggest. Almost all the people on the Ark are cast in an unflattering light. After all, Noah's family saved themselves while thousands of people drowned: "The water boiled with people. They were swimming, or clutching hold of logs, doors, cartwheels. Animals, too, were swimming among them--dogs and horses, cattle, goats. The sky was full of displaced birds, circling, circling, with nowhere to land" (p.11).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Lanckton on December 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Every teenager raised in a religious world, whether you're christian, jewish, or anything for that matter, should take a day to sit down and read this book. I myself am a huge fan of religiously themed books, and when I picked this one up at the library I wasn't expecting what I got.

Luckily the book is very quick read and I feel it is intended for those mature enough to understand death and religious themes, probably 15+ though I am sure some exceptions can be made. It is interesting to view Noah's Ark in a different light as we are all so used to the Christian happy story of people and animals living harmoniosly* in a boat for a few days... with sunshine and all that jazz, but this puts a very real spin on the everyday tale puts it in the perspective the way I feel the story was meant to be told, even though not completely factual.

I suggest this book to anyone who is interested in religion or raised religiously and wants to delve deeper into their origins.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Terri Rowan on September 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
Yearly floods have been getting worse, and Timna's father has built a great ship. Noah claims to be guided by God's Plan, and he has collected a great number of animals into the Ark, despite the derision of his neighbors.

The time on the Ark is an ordeal for all those aboard. When the floodwaters arrive, people who used to taunt Noah are now dashed against the sides and left to drown. The sheer mass of animals creates feeding, behavior, and sanitary problems. Almost worse for Timna, before the Flood reached the Ark, her brothers were directed to kidnap another girl to be her youngest brother's bride in the new society her father envisions.

When Timna finds two orphaned children clinging to life, she must make a fateful choice. Will she obey her father's--therefore God's--will that all the "demons" shall perish, or will she show compassion to frightened youngsters?

Geraldine McCaughrean takes on a revered Biblical tale from a perspective rarely imagined: that of a teenaged girl. She evokes all of the senses in her descriptions of day-to-day existence in the floating menagerie. Gone are the fluffy images of a happy boatful of animals, and in its place a swill of misery is led by a man and his son, both of whom claim to serve God's Plan.

While the story is primarily Timna's, the author employs other points of view throughout the book. Other characters are given voice in some chapters, as well as some of the animals who are captive below decks. This helps to round out the story, and each time another POV is used, it is clearly labeled; however, there are moments where it is easy for the reader to lose track of who is narrating.

The hardest part to quantify is the meaning of this book for people of different religious or philosophical persuasions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The tidal wave came, and just as soon as it came, it passed. Timna, and her father Noah, her mother Ama, her brothers Japheth, Shem, Ham, their wives Zillah, Bashemath, Sarai, the baby adalya, the boy Kittim, and his baby sister. It was the time of the flood. God send the flood of forty days and forty nights to clean the earth. God send Noah a vision to build an ark to carry his family and two of each animal until the flood ends. After the flood, they were to repopulate the earth. Timna was shocked to see all the dying people that they couldn't help because God told them not to. It would ruin his plans, but Timna kept having a feeling of regret and wondering why God did this. She found a boy and a baby hanging from a tree. She could stand no longer to witness them die innocently. She hid them with the animals, without her parents knowing. Timna kept believing he was a demon and thought he was the one who caught the ark on fire, but then realized if it wasn't for him, she wouldn't know about it. She kept trying to believed that he, too, was a part of God's plans. Japheth's wife, Zillah, was very reluctant to marry Japheth, and was angry at the family for kidnapping her and not saving her family. They kept trying to tell her that she was lucky and should be thankful that God decided to spare her life, among many others. Bashemath, Shem's wife, delivered a baby while on the ark. It was a girl named Adalya. Shortly after it was born, it was killed by a mink, and Timna gave her Kittim's baby sister and Bashemath was very greatful. Once, Kittim and his sister, and Zillah, had a chance to swim to another boat, to safety from being killed for being thought of as devils. But Kittim refused to go without Timna, his best, and only, friend.Read more ›
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