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The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm Library Binding – April, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up?It is the year 2194 in Harare, Zimbabwe. When the three over-protected children of General Amadeus Matsika are kidnapped, they learn that their country is a land of contrasts. Wealthy people live in homes staffed by robots and protected by automatic dobermans, while the poor live in a neighborhood known as The Cow's Guts, mining for plastic within the tunnels of Dead Man's Vlei (a toxic waste dump). Resthaven is an enclave for people who cling to the ancient traditions, beliefs, and customs of the Shona tribe, but the nearby MacIlwaine Hotel is a mile-high vertical city of apartments, schools, clinics, and supermarkets. As the children journey from one predicament to another, three unlikely detectives from an agency known as The Ear, the Eye and the Arm attempt to rescue them. Narrator George Guidall does a brilliant job of conveying the complex natures of a wide range of characters. Without resorting to vocal stereotypes, he portrays military generals, adolescent girls, gang thugs, fey tutors, ancient spirit mediums and small boys with equal skill. Coached by the author herself, he has mastered the pronunciation of vocabulary from the Shona, Xhosa, Zulu and Afrikaans languages. With its blend of high-tech futurism and authentic African tribal folklore, Nancy Farmer's Newbery Honor Book (Orchard, 1994) is an exciting selection for recorded fiction. This story will challenge young adult readers?and listeners?to think about their own lives and futures.
Margaret Rigg Myhre, Cataldo Catholic School, Spokane, WA
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-10. Even readers who don't like sf will be drawn to a hero who has a sense of humor about his serious mission. In Zimbabwe in the year 2194, the military ruler's 13-year-old son and his younger brother and sister leave their technologically overcontrolled home and find themselves on a series of perilous adventures. Tendai and his siblings encounter mile-high buildings and other miracles of scientific advance; they also find fetid slums and toxic waste dumps. As they're kidnapped by gangsters, forced to slave in a plastic mine, and accused of witchcraft, they're pursued by mutant detectives, who are both bumbling and sensitive and who always seem to be just one step behind rescuing the children. In the best section, the siblings find themselves in a traditional Shona village that at first seems idyllic but turns out to also encompass fierce sexism, ignorance, and disease. Throughout the story, it's the thrilling adventure that will grab readers, who will also like the comic, tender characterizations, not only of the brave, defiant trio and the absurd detectives, but also of nearly every one the kids meet, from street gangsters and spiritual healers to the English tribespeople with their weird customs. Tendai's spiritual coming-of-age is the least interesting part of the novel, but teens will like this teenager with "a hot line to the spirit world." Hazel Rochman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Library Binding: 311 pages
  • Publisher: Orchard Books (NY) (April 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0531086798
  • ISBN-13: 978-0531086797
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (348 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,222,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nancy Farmer has written three Newbery Honor Books: The Ear the Eye and the Arm; A Girl Named Disaster; and The House of the Scorpion, which, in 2002, also won the National Book Award. Other books include Do You Know Me, The Warm Place, the Trolls trilogy, three picture books for young children and an adult novel, A New Year's Tale. Nancy Farmer grew up on the Arizona-Mexico border and lives with her family in Arizona.

The Lord of Opium, sequel to The House of the Scorpion, will be published in Fall 2013.

Customer Reviews

Nancy Farmer is a wonderful story teller!
Fraught with exciting escapes and captures, this story will keep readers captivated.
Jody Halsey Meza
This is the greatest book I have ever read.
Marcia Kramer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 51 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
The best futuristic sci-fi tale for children set in Zimbabwe I've ever read. Which is unfair backhanded praise for a book that, in my opinion, should've been awarded the Newberry Award without question. Sometimes I like to pretend that I'm at a party and a savvy Hollywood producer comes up to me and asks for the number one children's book that should be optioned for a movie. Batta bing, I recommend this book. In it, you have a well-developed plot containing characters of amazing depth. No two-dimensional stick figures for this children's novel. The setting is more than unique. It is unparalleled. Farmer's ingenuity has created a book that speaks volumes. Not only is it an enjoyable edge-of-your-seat mystery, but there's a distinctly moral core to the book. It's the rare story that can make a person actually enjoy a section on (believe it or not) "courage". If your children can read, give them this book. If your children cannot read, give them this book anyway and teach them to do so with it. There is no higher praise I can give.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 15, 1999
Format: Library Binding
This is a terrific book. It is set in the future in Africa. Tendai, Rita, and Kuda who are the sons and daughter of Amadeus Matsika, the country's Cheif of Security. Matsika has wiped out almost all of the gangs except one, the Masks. After being kidnapped by the She Elephant, Tendai, Rita, and Kuda have to find a way home or they might fall victim to a terrible fate. They finally escape with the help of Trashman, a man in his twenties with the mind of a small child. They are taken to a place called Resthaven. Resthaven is like a small country, but it is set in the past. They live in the ways of the ancestors. After the children are found missing, Matsika's wife hires three private eyes, literally. These three have special powers. One has super strong eyes, another super strong ears, and finally super long limbs. As this story unfolds, see how the tale of Tendai, Rita, and Kuda changes your perspective on life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Fiore on March 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm is one of my all-time favorite books. And I don't mean just one of my all-time favorite KID books. It is rich and complex and imaginative enough for any adult reader to savor.

This story manages to blend and blur comedy with creepy, supernatural and surrealistic horror, cultural legend with a private detective story, far future with distant past, and science fiction with social insight. This is done with a cast of characters that are all splendidly drawn and recognizable, KNOWABLE human beings. From the 3 children at the heart of the adventure, to the mutated, talented, and absolutely luckless 3 private eyes charged with saving them, the characters are all clear, laughable, flawed, and loveable.

Tendai is smart and imaginative, but doubts his own personal courage. Rita, his chubby little sister, is spoiled and self-centered, but strong-minded. Kuda, their little brother, is tough and curious, but has no ability to measure consequences before acting. Escaping from the ultra-safety of their wealthy parents' beautiful but claustrophobic estate, they have mere moments of freedom before they fall into the hands of organized criminals.

They end up finding help from unlikely sources - the Trashman, a homeless tramp that cannot talk, the She-Elephant, the criminal queen of the tunnels of the radioactive dumpheap - but of course, most of all from their own unsuspected resourcefulness and determination, and at last from the 3 private detectives for whom the book is titled, who get everywhere, of course, always a bit too late...

The story line is anything but simple. The children escape from one danger only to fall prey to another, but danger comes not only from expected directions.
Read more ›
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read most of this book in fourth grade, then lost it. Im twenty years old now, and every so often, since the time i first read it, I've actually thought "Boy that was a great book, I should re-read it ... and finish it this time." It took me till three weeks ago, and I finially purchased this hardcover edition. I dont regret it! It is one of my all time favorite books. Theres a sense and smell to each page, something real about everything the author says. It's a science fiction with a flare of something akin to fantasy. I cant quite explain. You'll simply have to read it! I loved this book and am sure to read it again and again ... :)
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By R. Rowan on November 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
Harare Zimbabwe 2194. Cars fly. Robots and mechanical guard dogs maintain household order. Want to see real plastic? Go to a museum.
Author Nancy Farmer lived 17 years in Africa. She creates complex, realistic characters, especially the Matiska children and the three detectives. Minor players - the She-Elephant, the Mellower, his mother - are also well-drawn. You remember them.

Africa's future is tied to its past. Greed and prejudice still exist, but so do courage and resourcefulness. I liked how the native Shona spiritual world influences the characters.
Unforgettable setting + humor + insight = unique adventure/coming of age novel for children and adults. I referred to the appendix and glossary throughout the book; both aided my understanding.

This was the first Nancy Farmer book I tried. I look forward to reading more by this accomplished author.
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