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White Sands, Red Menace

White Sands, Red Menace

4.7 17
by Ellen Klages

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It is 1946. World War II is over-ended by the atomic bomb that Dewey Kerrigan's and Suze Gordon's scientist parents helped build. Dewey's been living with the Gordons since before the war's end, before her father died, moving south with them to Alamogordo, New Mexico. At the White Sands Missile Range, Phil Gordon is working on rockets that will someday go to the


It is 1946. World War II is over-ended by the atomic bomb that Dewey Kerrigan's and Suze Gordon's scientist parents helped build. Dewey's been living with the Gordons since before the war's end, before her father died, moving south with them to Alamogordo, New Mexico. At the White Sands Missile Range, Phil Gordon is working on rockets that will someday go to the moon; at home, Terry Gordon is part of the scientists' movement against the Bomb. Dewey and Suze have conflicts of their own. Where does a girl who likes physics and math fit in? How do you know the right time to speak up and the right time to keep your head down? And, most important of all: What defines a family?

Editorial Reviews

Mary Quattlebaum
…this carefully researched novel deserves high marks for tackling a historical period little explored in fiction for young people. Ellen Klages vividly captures the mood of a jittery nation and of girls beginning to question the gender- and race-bound rules that mandate Home Ec for females, forbid them to take classes in mechanical drawing and divide a border town along racial lines.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Picking up a year after the close of The Green Glass Sea, this strong sequel finds Suze and Dewey (short for Duodecima) living near Los Alamos with Suze's scientist parents, who with Dewey's late father had helped build the atom bomb. In the aftermath of Hiroshima, Suze's mother has begun organizing scientists against war, while her father throws himself into his work to maintain the U.S.'s edge over the Soviets and "Uncle Joe." This tense drama weaves family conflict with difficult political history: after a Thanksgiving dinner, Suze discovers that the guest her father has invited, an ex-Nazi who is now his colleague, helped run a German bomb factory where 20,000 slave laborers died. Equally gripping are the ongoing, rarely voiced struggles at home, not just between the parents but between the girls and their uneasy rivalry for Suze's mother's attention and affection. Klages has a gift for opening moral dilemmas to middle-graders-she includes (and sources) just enough information to engage her readers without detracting from her characters' emotional lives. Once again she offers up first-rate historical fiction. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
KLIATT - Janis Flint-Ferguson
This is the sequel to Ellen Klages's award-winning novel, The Green Glass Sea. Suze Gordon and Dewey Kerrigan have moved to Alamagordo, New Mexico where Suze's father is working on a rocket ship with German scientists who have come over after WW II. Suze's mother, the other Dr. Gordon, is working to raise awareness of the atomic bomb and the horrors the atomic age has wrought. Dewey's late father had been one of the scientists involved in the atomic bomb, so her connection to the Gordons is one of familiarity and science. In the attic of their house, Suze and Dewey are using their interest and talents in art and science to create "The Wall." The Wall is a sculpture of sorts that has moving parts and so requires the girls to dig around in junkyards and scrap heaps. It also leads to Dewey's friendship with Owen Parker, a school classmate with a similar interest in things scientific and mechanical. Suze's other best friend is Ynez, whose family lives on the other side of Tenth Street, hinting at the biases and prejudices of the early 1950s. There is animosity and the normal jealousies of girls as they find their way through family situations, but they also share compatible interests and an awakening social conscience that holds them together. This is a gentle, subtle story about relationships that can stand on its own without a reading of the earlier novel. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal

Gr 5-9

In this sequel to The Green Glass Sea (Viking, 2006), Dewey and the Gordon family have relocated from Los Alamos to Alamogordo, NM, now that World War II is over, because Mr. Gordon has been offered a job to develop rockets for the U.S. government. Dewey and Suze Gordon are comfortable with one another, almost like sisters, and begin eighth grade together at a new school, where they are required to take home economics instead of shop. Suze's mother has had to put her academic career as a chemist on hold and is struggling with her growing estrangement from her husband, based primarily on their different positions about the atomic bomb. But Dewey relishes the close bond that she is developing with Mrs. Gordon, only to have it disrupted by the arrival of her birth mother, who left Dewey and her dad when she was two. Superbly written and rich in detail, Klages's novel once again nails the uncertainty that many Americans experienced after the truths of Hiroshima began to surface. History is intricately woven into the story of these memorable characters, and issues such as self-identity, family, and racism are explored. The desert heat is palpable, the immense expanses are easily visualized, and the roles that women and minorities played in the late 1940s are painfully evident. The only problem is minor-the threat in this volume is not "red" communism, but rather ex-Nazis and the atomic research itself, so the title might mislead readers. Nonetheless, this book is every bit as powerful as its predecessor.-Melissa Moore, Union University Library, Jackson, TN

Kirkus Reviews
In the sequel to The Green Glass Sea (2006), 12-year-old Suze, parents Terry and Phil, and 13-year-old Dewey have moved to Alamogordo, N.M., where Phil Gordon is assisting with rocket experiments following detonation of the first atomic bombs in 1945. Scientifically minded Dewey (previously taken in by the Gordons after her father's death) gets along well with Suze as they face a series of issues: Terry's anger over her husband's involvement in the atomic project and her unexpected pregnancy, the reappearance of Dewey's mother, who abandoned her as a toddler, Dewey's budding romance with a classmate and Suze's occasional jealousy over Dewey's comfortable place in the family. Told in the third person, the point-of-view subtly switches by chapter between the two girls. Although alluding to issues of the atomic age, that is not a focus of this story, which sensitively portrays the early coming-of-age of two likable characters in a unique setting. Although it works well as a stand-alone, this tale will leave readers anxious to pick up the preceding work. (Historical fiction. 10 & up)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.14(w) x 7.78(h) x 0.89(d)
Age Range:
10 Years

Meet the Author

Ellen Klages was born a in Columbus, Ohio. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Philosophy.

“It teaches you to ask questions and think logically, which are useful skills for just about any job.” she says. “But when I looked in the Want Ads under P, no philosophers. I’ve been a pinball mechanic, a photographer, and done paste-up for a printer.

“I’ve lived in San Francisco most of my adult life. The city wears its past in layers, glimpses of other eras visible on every street. I love to look through old newspapers and photos, trying to piece together its stories.

“I was at the Exploratorium, a hands-on science museum, working as proofreader, when they were looking for a science writer to do a children’s science activity book. No science background, but I convinced my boss that in order to ‘translate’ from a PhD physicist, I had to ask lots of questions, just like a curious kid. I got the job.

“My desk was covered with baking soda, Elmer’s glue, balloons, soap bubbles, and dozens of other common objects that became experiments, and the office echoed with the ‘Science-at-Home’ team saying, ‘Wow! Look at this!’

“My co-writer, Pat Murphy, a science-fiction author, encouraged me to write stories of my own. I’ve now sold more than a dozen. “Basement Magic,” a fairy tale set at the beginning of the Space Age, won the Nebula Award in 2005.

The Green Glass Sea is not science fiction, but it is fiction about science. And history and curiosity.”

Ellen Klages lives in San Francisco. The Green Glass Sea is her first novel.

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White Sands, Red Menace 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the first and second book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is its called the green glass sea
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked white sands red menace better than the green glass sea. I felt the topics were really interesting as well as the green glass sea. The books are must reads and some of my favs. Totally recommended to anyone 9-10 and up!!!!!! Buy it now!!!!!!!!! Read the green glass sea first though. Read NOW!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just fineshed reading it and its amazing i wish there was a anther book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It really did a great job of continuing the story and connecting the reader to real historic events.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Julie Harrison-Mullany More than 1 year ago
A very good book for all ages! She producesna just as great book as before she finishes with a astounding sequal!
jkr More than 1 year ago
Dewey and Suze's story (see review of "The Green Glass Sea") continues, after the Bomb has exploded and after World War II has ended. The girls are well into adolescence now, and their involvement in the larger world deepens as issues such as gender roles, race, and the political implications of science come more explicitly into focus. If that makes the book sound too heavy, or heavy-handed, for its intended audience, fear not: Klages's lovely writing and character development are still primary. While the book is serious and at times heart-breaking, appealing perhaps to a slightly older group of readers than its predecessor, the messages never overwhelm the people or their stories. In fact, to my taste the best part of the book was the depiction of Suze and Dewey's deep and complex friendship as they support and nurture (and sometimes envy and come into conflict with) each other's very different talents and characters. This is a thoroughly worthwhile sequel, and I have no hesitation in recommending both books to any young (or older) reader capable of engagement with material of this intelligence and depth.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mother-Daughter-Book-Club More than 1 year ago
It's such a pleasure to read a sequel that lives up to and possibly even surpasses the original. White Sands, Red Menace, Ellen Klages's follow up to The Green Glass Sea is a wonderful continuation of Suze Gordon and Dewey Kerrigan's story. When The Green Glass Sea ends, Dewey's dad has died and the Gordons have taken her in. With World War II over and the atom bomb no longer a secret, they move from Los Alamos to Alamogordo, New Mexico, where Suze's dad is one of the General Electric scientists working with the Army to perfect a rocket that can go into space and carry a nuclear bomb. After seeing the results of their work in Los Alamos, Suze's mom, Terry Gordon, works to let the world know of the dangers of atomic bombs. She's fighting a rising tide of Americans' fascination with all things atomic. Suze and Dewey are starting all over again at a new school and hoping to fit in better than they did at Los Alamos. They have each other, but they hope to make new friends as well. Klages has done a masterful job of capturing the time period and the small town in New Mexico in which the story takes place. It was a time when kids had a lot of freedom to roam, time on their hands and not a lot of money or electronic attractions. This often meant they had to get creative to kill their boredom. Dewey's interest and ability in science pairs well with Suze's interest and ability in art. In their attic room, they go to work on a wall that showcases both their talents. The story moves at a leisurely pace that's somewhat like the slow summer days the girls experience at the beginning of the book, and I found myself matching my reading pace to their exploits. I also found myself dreaming of a time that was simpler in many ways and more complicated in others. There are also plenty of family dynamics for mothers and daughters to discuss: the tension between Suze's parents as her mom becomes more pacifist and her dad is caught up in the atomic craze. The tension between the two girls over parental love and attention and what makes a family. The tension between whites and those of Mexican descent in this small New Mexican town. It all adds up to a great book to read and talk about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Rocket this. Atomic-powered that. They are all the rage in the United States during the post-War era.

Dewey and Suze have moved with Suze's scientist parents to New Mexico. Phil, Suze's dad, works endlessly on a new project -- a rocket that could eventually land on the moon while Terry, Suze's mom, obsesses over her mission against the Bomb which both she and Phil created.

Dewey and Suze love working on "the wall" in their new bedroom. They tinker, build, and add more and more to the carefully constructed contraptions, even though girls aren't supposed to be interested in things like that. When Dewey's long-lost mother shows up, Dewey struggles to understand the meaning of family.

Take a trip back in time and be fascinated by people and events that created history and helped shape the world as we know it.