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Kaleidoscope Eyes Library Binding – May 12, 2009
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The summer of 1968 provides a fertile backdrop for Bryant’s verse novel about Lyza, her friends, and their hunt for Captain Kidd’s lost treasure in a New Jersey neighborhood. While cleaning out her recently deceased, thrill-seeking grandfather’s house, Lyza finds a plain envelope with her name on it. Inside are maps and vague clues about one last adventure that he saved for her. Lyza enlists her friends Malcolm and Carolann, “a tall, shy black guy and a small, hyperactive white girl,” swearing them to secrecy. Their sneaking around leads to a grounding, which leads to more sneaking around. For a story involving pirate treasure, it takes awhile to pick up speed. The poetry format doesn’t always seem purposeful, and the ending is implausible. However, the characters are endearing and the setting is vivid. The events of the small town filter into the teens’ lives in realistic ways: Malcolm’s older brother is drafted, Lyza’s older sister is a hippie, and boys they know are killed in the war or come home changed forever. Grades 5-7. --Heather Booth --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2009:
"Readers will fall under the spell of the delicious plot."
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, May 25, 2009:
“Sincere and well-paced, with the backdrop of a tumultuous period in history, the story is not easily forgotten.”
From the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
If that weren’t enough, Lyza has to deal with the death of her beloved grandfather. The summer gets a lot more interesting when she discovers the gift that her grandfather bequeathed her: maps and clues that promise certain adventure and intrigue. With the help of her best friends Malcolm and Carolann, Lyza finds out that the notorious pirate Captain Kidd may have buried treasure right in their own New Jersey town.
How can three kids possibly handle such a big secret? Will they be able to find the treasure? The entire novel is written in verse, an interesting and unique stylistic choice that will interest young readers in poetry.
This review originally appeared on abookandahug.com
Kaleidoscope Eyes is set during the Vietnam War.
The cast of characters includes:
Lyza, who is a teenager coping with her mother's absence, trying to grow up. Her grandfather passes away, leaving an envelope only for her. The information in the envelope leads her and her friends on the hunt for a buried treasure that Captain Kidd, a pirate, buried near her New Jersey town.
Denise - Lyza's sister, is busy dating Hairy Harry, a long-haired war protester, and listening to Janice Joplin. The sisters are often at odds, and Denise is truly a vision of sixties pop culture.
Their father is a professor at a local college, working long hours to repay the debts their mother accumulated before deserting her family. While he is against the war, he is quiet about his feelings in order to keep his job.
Malcolm, Lyza's good friend, is an African American male, whose brother, Dexter, gets drafted to go to war. Both acknowledge that his race may put him where the worst fighting is taking place. The issue of race are evident when Malcolm cannot find a job because he is black and he has never been seated at the restaurant where Denise works.
Carolann, Lyza's best girlfriend is instrumental to the location of Captain Kidd's treasure as is Malcolm.
Bryant does an amazing job of weaving in the feelings present in the sixties - the fear and anger about Vietnam, the sadness of those who fought in Vietnam and returned changed forever, the way in which music and entertainers influenced the teens of this decade. Even Bryant's title, Kaleidoscope Eyes, originates from the Beatles song, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
This book was fabulous and I will highly recommend this for teen readers.
What this novel IS is a great story, told in the briefest of captured moments. It's like telling an entire life through a slideshow of conversations or scenes. It's hard to do such a condensed story well, and Bryant does it exceedingly well.
Lyza is a teen in the 60s, dealing with a mom who abandoned the family, a black best friend in a still quietly segregated town, local boys being killed in Vietnam, a feminist big sister, a suspicious and exhausted father, and a mystery involving maps left to her by her grandfather. All of these pieces weave together to make an engaging, smart story. Will Lyza's mom come back? Will her best friend's older brother come back from Vietnam? Will they find pirate treasure? Is her sister really a heartless feminazi? Read it and find out!
Lyza is an observer and a thinker, and I like the kaleidoscope element throughout. Most of all, she's a girl I would have been friends with when I was a teen.