After a nuclear war devastates the earth, a small band of people struggles for survival in a new world where children are born with strange mutations.
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Cambridge Literature is a series of literary texts edited for study by students aged 14-18 in English-speaking classrooms. It will include novels, poetry, short stories, essays, travel-writing and other non-fiction. The series will be extensive and open-ended, and will provide school students with a range of edited texts taken from a wide geographical spread. It will include writing in English from various genres and differing times. Children of the Dust by Louise Lawrence is edited by Ron Middleton, Wargrave Piggott School, Reading.From School Library Journal:
Grade 6-9 Nuclear missiles are flying toward their targets. One family is separated: the father finds his way to an underground shelter while his wife and three children seal themselves in their living room. But only Catherine, the eight year old, stays completely inside, away from radiation, hiding under a blanket-covered table. And only she will survive. Her older sister, before she dies, takes Catherine to Johnson, an eccentric survivalist. Meanwhile, in a government bunker, Bill Harnden, the father, mates and has another daughter, Ophelia. As the years pass, a few survivors try to establish an agricultural foundation for a new society above ground, while in the shelter machines preserve a society unable to function in a new world. When the leaders of the shelter decide to commandeer the livestock of the outsiders, Bill and Ophelia go to warn them. In Johnson's camp, now a small village, Bill finds that his daughter Catherine is the mother of the first of a new breed of genetic mutants who are covered with fine white fur and have strange white eyes and psychic abilities. By the next generation, it is clear that the society underground cannot last, and Ophelia's son Simon must establish a bond with " homo superior , the children of the dust" so that technological knowledge is not lost forever. Lawrence is a powerful writer who skillfuly conveys the horrors of war and the small things that can break the spirit. However, it is difficult to portray effectively a long-term reaction to atomic destruction. The massive evolutionary changes which she projects occuring in just one generation stretch readers' credulity. Jean E. Karl's Strange Tomorrow (Dutton, 1985) is more believable; Robert Swindells' Brother in the Land (Holiday, 1985) has more depth of feeling. This is interesting, but not the best in a mushrooming field of apocalyptic science fiction. Anne Connor, Los Angeles Public Library
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