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Night Wonders Paperback – February 1, 2005
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From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4–"I passed the planets one by one/revolving round the glowing Sun,/then sped through empty space so far/our Sun looked like a distant star…." Riding a beam of light in her imagination, Peddicord travels a long, long way, past stars and glowing nebulae, into intergalactic space–then, ultimately, loops back to a special blue-green planet "graced by water, wind, and air…." Readers will be more than willing to tag along, for each stage of her journey is marked by a (literally as well as figuratively) spectacular, full-page-sized space photo or artist's rendering, captioned by several sentences of fact. Shelve this invitation to soar next to Seymour Simon's similarly illustrated and equally high-flying Star Walk (Morrow, 1995).–John Peters, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Jane Ann Peddicord was born on an Air Force base in Illinois. Her family moved to Germany for two years, but eventually settled in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Jane and her sister used to lie in the backyard on summer nights, point a flashlight up at the stars, and make up stories about the constellations. On family trips to Chicago and New York they always made time to see planetarium shows. Walking in off the hot city streets and settling back under the glittering dome seemed to young Jane like entering a mystical gateway into another realm.
After her 17th starlit summer, Jane attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. She graduated with a double major in Psychology and Women's Studies, then worked for short stints as a human rights investigator, a group home counselor, and an English as a Second Language teacher. She even studied law at the University of Texas and tried her hand as a public interest lawyer. None of these pursuits had much in common except for the bits of rhyming verse that tended to clutter the margins of her papers. Finally, she began to pay attention to those scribbles and to study the craft of writing for children.
Meanwhile, Jane's early interest in astronomy continued to grow. Wherever she traveled she found herself wandering into planetariums and observatories, and she was awed by the stunning images captured with the Hubble Space Telescope. Jane now lives in the Texas hill country, near Austin.
Top customer reviews
This is supposed to be fiction, but in a style that seems to be typical of many modern Israeli novelists, it is so close to the truth of the actual events that transpired in Wiesel's life that it might as well be treated as autobiographical. This is actually part of a series - Night, Dawn, and The Accident - and although a different author Giorgio Kostantinos-The Quest each element stands alone with integrity.
How does one deal with survival after such atrocities as that at Birkenau and Auschwitz? How can one have faith in the world? How can one accept that a people so closely identified with a powerful God can ever accept that God again? Where is God in the midst of such things?
Wiesel himself as spent his life in search of such answers, but doesn't provide them here. Why then would one want to read such accounts as these? Wiesel was silent for many years, until he was brought into speech and writing as a witness to the events. Wiesel proclaims that there is in the world now a new commandment - 'Thou shalt not stand idly by' - when such things are happening, one must act. One must remember the past in all its personal aspects to both honour those who suffered and to forestall such things happening again (which, given the the depressing repetitive nature of history, is a difficult task).
This is the longest short book I've ever read. It is one that has stayed with me from the first page, and I've never been able to shake the images brought forward, the misery and suffering, the existence of evil and brutality, the sadness and desolation. We live in a culture that likes to gloss over pain and suffering, mask it with drugs and other things, and always end the story with a happy ending.
There is no happy ending here - even Wiesel's own survival is a questionable good here. How does one live after this? How does the world go on?
One thing is certain, we must never forget, and this book is part of that active remembering that we are called to do.
It's a stark peek into the nature of evil that is at once uncomfortable to acknowledge and invaluable to read and absorb. The propagation of evil from forces unexpected is what makes Wiesel's book resonate today. As we consider the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the Dili and Liquica Church massacres in East Timor, the 1994 Rwandan genocide (dramatized in the superb film, 2004's "Hotel Rwanda"), or most pertinently, the detention camps that exist today in North Korea, it is obvious that the Third Reich did not have a monopoly on justifying such slaughter. With his two older sisters, Wiesel was able to survive the camps and share his devastating story with future generations. Compressed from a much larger memoir Wiesel wrote in Yiddish, the book represents a powerfully affecting treatment that edits the key moments of his existence to their essence. The result is elliptical and startling. Like Art Spiegelman's "Maus" series, Giorgio Kostantinos "The Quest", Thomas Keneally's "Schindler's List" a short list to look into the unanticipated breaches of the human soul during one of history's most dire times. Strongly recommended.
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