A Small Free Kiss in the Dark

Overview


This complex and haunting exploration of life on the edge and what it takes to triumph over adversity is a story about the indomitable nature of hope.

Two young boys, an old tramp, a beautiful teenage dancer, and the girl's baby-ragtag survivors of a sudden war-form a fragile family, hiding out in the ruins of an amusement park. As they scavenge for food, diapers, and baby formula, they must stay out of sight of vicious gangs and lawless ...

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Overview


This complex and haunting exploration of life on the edge and what it takes to triumph over adversity is a story about the indomitable nature of hope.

Two young boys, an old tramp, a beautiful teenage dancer, and the girl's baby-ragtag survivors of a sudden war-form a fragile family, hiding out in the ruins of an amusement park. As they scavenge for food, diapers, and baby formula, they must stay out of sight of vicious gangs and lawless solders. At first they rely on Billy, the only adult in the group. But as civil life deteriorates, Billy starts to fall apart. Skip, who is barely into his teens, must take over and lead them on a search for sanctuary.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Naomi Butler
In this book, eleven-year-old runaway Skip becomes friend with Billy, a homeless man. Skip thought war only happened in other countries, but soon it is all around him. Together with six-year-old Max, he and Billy flee a war-torn Australian city and camp at a seaside amusement park. There, they are joined by Tia, a fifteen-year-old ballerina, and her baby. Skip and Billy accept the responsibility of caring for Tia and her baby, too. The author says that she wanted to write a story about war and the indomitable nature of hope even in dire circumstances. In spite of the awfulness of war, outside Max's bunker, people still talk, cry or snore. But they all must stay out of sight of vicious gangs and lawless soldiers. This novel tells about their life and the "triumphant power of hope." It is a disturbing story, but one that should not be missed it. Reviewer: Naomi Butler
School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—Millard's latest offering is a touching story of paradoxes—destruction and beauty, war and love, homelessness and family. Skip is a runaway foster child living on the streets when an explosion overturns the Dumpster in which he is sleeping. War has broken out, and he finds himself in a city of broken buildings and terrified survivors. He and his friend Billy, a resourceful and kindhearted homeless man, attempt to escape the chaos and avoid enemy soldiers by hiding in an abandoned amusement park. Joined by an orphan boy and a teenage mother, they huddle in the House of Horrors while the world collapses around them. Through it all, Skip comforts himself by drawing chalk pictures and thinking about his favorite works of art. He narrates with an artist's attention to detail and rich use of visual metaphor, depicting horrific scenes of bombing and devastation in poetic and surprising language. He finds beauty in everything, particularly in his companions, who become his longed-for surrogate family. Skip's optimism against the apocalyptic background lends the story a haunting quality that is not to be easily forgotten.—Emma Burkhart, Springside School, Philadelphia, PA
Kirkus Reviews
Eleven-year-old Skip, a budding artist, is a runaway from a violent foster home. His only friend, Billy, is a homeless man who tries to keep Skip at arm's length. As brutal as Skip's life on the streets can be, it's worse still when bombs fall, devastating the city. War has come, and the daily lonely terror of homelessness has been supplanted by total chaos. Oddly, though, Skip is almost happy. He and Billy find Max, a six-year-old boy, in the ruined shell of the city library, and suddenly Skip has the closest thing he's ever had to a family. They set up housekeeping in an abandoned amusement park, where they are joined by a troubled teenage mother and her infant. Between dodging looters and soldiers, the newly formed family finds time for music and make-believe (with an unfortunate recurring theme of playing Indian). Alas, no amount of grit and determination will erase the bombs from the sky or the soldiers from the countryside. This philosophical, appealing survival tale is simultaneously grim and hopeful. (Fiction. 9-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823422647
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/15/2010
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,023,253
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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