Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Kestrel

The Kestrel

Fall 1982 Fiction
Ages: 10 & Up
By: Lloyd Alexander
Hardcover Price: $5.99
Mickle, Queen August of Westmark, is a most unwilling monarch. She was far happier when she was a street girl in love with Theo, a former printer's apprentice. They had survived by hoaxing the public under the superb tutelage of Count Las Bombas and the dwarf, Musket. When Theo disappears on a fact-finding mission, Mickle runs away with her former colleagues to find him. They are not to be easily reunited, however; war has broken out with a neighboring country, and both young people fling themselves into the fray. Mickle takes command of her demoralized army, and Theo proves his courage by joining a band of guerrillas.

Through Theo's gradual corruption into Colonel Kestrel, a murderous leader of the guerrillas, the author succeeds in making the reader empathize with a character's terribly destructive behavior - an almost impossible accomplishment in a book for young people. this illuminates both the brutalizing aspects of war and the universal human potential for becoming brutalized. Although all of alexander's books are, in a sense, anti-war, The Kestrel, with a full share of his special humor, is also his most powerful.

Kemie Nix   ©1982 Parents' Choice
Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children's Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents' Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

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