Brian Grouhel, May 16, 2013 (view all comments by Brian Grouhel)
White Sands, Red Menace was a thoroughly enjoyable book. Had I not noticed on the inside jacket cover that this was a youth story, I would have been hard pressed to figure that out. About two young girls growing up in Alamogordo, New Mexico at the dawn of the rocket age and learning how to live with the bomb. The author has woven historical fact into an enthralling story that depicts what life in the late 1940's might have been like for the two main characters. After reading this book and enjoying it so much, I will now look for Ms. Klages' first book and give that one a read also.
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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.
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A gadget-obsessed engineering prodigy who is a girl? Unusual, to say the least but the year is 1946 and this girl is growing up in a post-WWII scientific community with the Cold War looming. As someone who rarely reads historical fiction and has only a lukewarm interest in atomic physics or rocket science, I have to hand it to Ellen Klages for creating middle-grade fiction that is so gripping and so thought-provoking that I cannot wait for her next project. Be sure to get White Sands, Red Menace into the hands of every scientifically inclined young person in your life!
by Jill S.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by 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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Publishers Weekly, starred review,
"Klages has a gift for opening moral dilemmas to middle-graders....[F]irst-rate historical fiction."
by School Library Journal,
"Every bit as powerful as its predecessor."
In this sequel to The Green Glass Sea, it is 1946 and Dewey Kerrigan is living near the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico with the Gordon family. Meanwhile, Dewey and her sister, Suze, share secrets, art, and science as they adjust to high school in an isolated desert town.
It is 1946, and the events of The Green Glass Sea have changed the world — and Dewey Kerrigan's life. She's now living near the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico with the Gordon family. Dr. Gordon is working on rockets that will someday go to the moon; Mrs. Gordon is working on stopping the Bomb. Meanwhile, Dewey and her sister, Suze, share secrets, art, and science as they adjust to high school in an isolated desert town. Then, like a different kind of dropped bomb, Dewey?s long-lost mother, Rita Gallucci, reappears in their lives. And she wants to take her daughter away.
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