Pen­guins on board

The Jewish Chronicle - - BOOKS - BY AN­GELA KIVERSTEIN

MEET AT the Ark at Eight, Noah’s dove tells the two pen­guins. But they can’t aban­don t hei r friend, pen­guin num­ber three. So these an­ar­chic lit­tle crea­tures — de­cep­tively cute i n Jorg Muhle’s il­lus­tra­tions — knock their pal un­con­scious and smug­gle him on board. And sud­denly they are hav­ing a the­o­log­i­cal de­bate. Does God ex­ist? If so, why did He make pen­guins look like birds but s mell l i k e f i s h? Does He for­give our sins — and is an ac­ci­dent still a sin? And does He like cheese­cake? Ul­rich Hub’s as­ton­ish­ing book (Pushkin, £6.99) is one of a kind. Ages five to adult, Soon (Pen­guin, £6.99) is the latest in Mor­ris Gleitz­man’s se­ries about Holo­caust sur­vivor Felix, this time set in post-war Poland. Would-be doc­tor Felix, 13, is al­ready in­for­mally prac­tis­ing medicine, while strug­gling with a new re­spon­si­bil­ity — a baby, thrust upon him by a des­per­ate mother. A qual­i­fied medic might help, sug­gests his new friend, Anya, who hap­pens to know one. But what did this “doc­tor” do dur­ing the war? History, uri­nous slap­stick and wry hu­mour, for age 12 up. Why Is This Night Dif­fer­ent From All Other Nights? by Lemony Snicket (Eg­mont, £12.99) is noth­ing to do with Passover but is still aptly named, be­ing the last of four books in the All the Wrong Ques­tions se­ries, in which a boy de­tec­tive (also named Snicket) pur­sues the vil­lain­ous Hang­fire. This night is dif­fer­ent be­cause it is spent on a train, in­ves­ti­gat­ing a mur­der. Nat­u­rally, mul­ti­ple twists oc­cur be­fore the cul­prit is un­masked. But the plot is never re­ally the point with Snicket; the en­ter­tain­ment is in the lan­guage. We learn, for in­stance, that “the truthis­likead­oor­knob.You­cans­tum­ble aroundinthedark,and­wheny­ou­fi­nally grasp it, you may end up some­place ter­ri­fy­ing.” Age 10 up. Black Dove, White Raven by El­iz­a­beth Wein (Elec­tric Mon­key, £7.99) sends Em and Teo — chil­dren of pi­o­neer­ing fe­male stunt pilots, one Amer­i­can, one Ethiopian — on a dar­ing mis­sion, as Mus­solini pre­pares to in­vade Ethiopia. Wein com­bines imag­i­nary and real events and fig­ures (in­clud­ing a close en­counter with Em­peror Haile Se­lassie and the res­cue of the “Ark of the Covenant”). Re­fresh­ing­tore­adaYAnovel set at an un­fa­mil­iar mo­ment in history and in an un­fa­mil­iar coun­try, which Wein knows down to the last de­tail. Age 12 up.

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