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Out of Many Waters


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Gr 5-8 Greene's novel, based on the Portuguese Inquisition, makes history come alive. Twelve-year-old Isobel is a member of a family of conversos who keep their Judaism hidden. To reeducate Isobel and her sister Maria, friars kidnap both girls and take them to Brazil. Through Isobel's eyes, youngsters experience the anguish of estrangement and the harsh conditions of the slavery in which the children are forced to live. Isobel is shocked when Maria insists that they must hide on separate ships leaving for Amsterdam, but she overcomes her intense fear and goes off on her own. Although Isobel has several close calls, she ultimately reaches safety in New Amsterdam, hopeful that someday she will be reunited with her family. Sometimes her victories are a bit too convenient, but this does not detract from the book's overall appeal. Isobel is a believable character. She is courageous, but her bravery is borne of necessity and a powerful desire to see her family again. In this, she is somewhat reminiscent of Dicey in Cynthia Voigt's Homecoming (Macmillan, 1985) and Mary Call in Vera and Bill Cleaver's Where the Lilies Bloom (Harper, 1969) . Greene has written an engrossing tale about a frightening and shameful period in history. The unfortunate omission of a specific date for the setting could detract from young readers' ease in understanding the book's historical basis. Only the reference to New Amsterdam near the end of the book gives youngsters a frame of reference. In spite of this shortcoming, this would be an excellent addition to collections which already include Claudia Von Canon's The Inheritance (Houghton, 1983). Renee Steinberg, Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, N.J.

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