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Markus Zusak is the award-winning author of The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger, both Michael L. Printz Honor Books. An international bestseller, The Book Thief has sold over 4.5 million copies in the U.S. alone and has garnered worldwide critical acclaim. The New York Times called it "Brilliant and hugely ambitious. . . . It's the kind of book that can be life changing," and The Guardian (UK) said, "Unsettling, thought-provoking, life-affirming, triumphant and tragic, this is a novel of breathtaking scope, masterfully told. It is an important piece of work, but also a wonderful page-turner." Markus Zusak is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens. He lives with his wife and children in Sydney, Australia. From the Trade Paperback edition.
In our Best Books citation, PW called this tale of a teenage Australian cabdriver who thwarts a bank robbery and sets off an intricate chain of events "compulsively readable." Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Gr 9 Up-Nineteen-year-old cabbie Ed Kennedy has little in life to be proud of: his dad died of alcoholism, and he and his mom have few prospects for success. He has little to do except share a run-down apartment with his faithful yet smelly dog, drive his taxi, and play cards and drink with his amiable yet similarly washed-up friends. Then, after he stops a bank robbery, Ed begins receiving anonymous messages marked in code on playing cards in the mail, and almost immediately his life begins to swerve off its beaten-down path. Usually the messages instruct him to be at a certain address at a certain time. So with nothing to lose, Ed embarks on a series of missions as random as a toss of dice: sometimes daredevil, sometimes heartwarmingly safe. He rescues a woman from nightly rape by her husband. He brings a congregation to an abandoned parish. The ease with which he achieves results vacillates between facile and dangerous, and Ed's search for meaning drives him to complete every task. But the true driving force behind the novel itself is readers' knowledge that behind every turn looms the unknown presence-either good or evil-of the person or persons sending the messages. Zusak's characters, styling, and conversations are believably unpretentious, well conceived, and appropriately raw. Together, these key elements fuse into an enigmatically dark, almost film-noir atmosphere where unknowingly lost Ed Kennedy stumbles onto a mystery-or series of mysteries-that could very well make or break his life.-Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Zusak's When Dogs Cry was an honour book in the `older readers' category of this year's CBCA children's book of the year awards. Whilst this new novel-a parable for the Two Hands generation-may also please the CBC judges, its main appeal may well be to a readership who would probably die rather than be seen in the children's section of a bookshop or library: young adult males. Zusak knows his readership well, and this is one book you could safely recommend to anyone looking for a book for 15-25 year-olds who aren't regular readers. Ed Kennedy, an amiable yet aimless young taxi driver, finds his drab life taking a unusual turn after he is innocently caught up in a bank hold-up. A habitual card player, Ed starts receiving anonymously-sent playing cards which urge him to act as a reluctant latter-day `ministering angel' in his community. His good deeds are sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant, as he undergoes a transformation from nobody to somebody. In the wrong hands this kind of material could be unbearable, but Zusak portrays the expectations, lifestyle and concerns of his young characters with utter authenticity. Ed and his friends become real for us, and we follow their progress, and the unravelling of the mystery (who is sending the messages, and why?) with an interest that builds and builds. The last laugh is on us: Zusak conjours a delightful post-modern ending which few will see coming. The Messenger merits support for its attempt to reach a largely untapped readership. It also happens to be a great read. Andrew Wilkins is the editor of AB&P. C. 2002 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors