Andrea Cheng Eclipse

ISBN 13: 9781932425215

Eclipse

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9781932425215: Eclipse
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A serious young boy has to learn to take a stand for his own well-being. In 1952 eight-year-old Peti's Hungarian relatives come to live with his family in America. His older cousin Gabor is a sullen boy who argues with his parents and bullies Peti. Peti's only escape is to the local library, where he reads about everything from the solar system to pinhole cameras and secret codes. Peti wants Gabor to move out, but Uncle Jozsef can't find a job, and Peti's mother has to find work instead. The landlady is threatening to evict them, and the boys in the neighborhood are dreaming up trouble. To top it all off, Peti's mother worries constantly about her father, who is behind the Iron Curtain in Hungary. When the librarian invites Peti to go with her on a tour of the Rankin House, once a stop on the Underground Railroad, the day trip turns into much more than a chance to get away from tension at home. Peti comes back with a new understanding of friendship and family, new insights about human nature, and a new resolve to stand up for himself.

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About the Author:

Andrea Cheng teaches English as a Second Language in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she lives with her husband and their three children. The daughter of Hungarian immigrants, she gew up among members of her extended family, many of whom survived the Holocaust. Her family spoke mostly Hungarian at home.

Review:

Eight-year-old Peti is apprehensive about the arrival of his Hungarian relatives, who are coming to live in America. They have a twelve-year-old son, and Peti knows that older boys can shift from nice to bullying without much warning. His fears prove more than justified when it comes to his cousin, Gabor, who is grumpy at best and abusive at worst. Peti is also worried about his grandfather, who has been taken to a work camp in Stalinist post-war Hungary. As life gets increasingly strained at home, Peti spends more time at the library, where he learns about many new things, including secret codes, eclipses, and the Underground Railroad, that become meaningful for him in light of his circumstances. Cheng achieves a pitch-perfect characterization for this Hungarian-American boy in the early 1950s: Peti is chirpy and naïve with grownups, but he's learning to keep his own counsel where the older boys are concerned; he's worried and uncertain about his grandfather's situation, but he's cheered by the approval he gains for adult-pleasing behavior in contrast to his sulky cousin. His few possessions are well beloved, and his insatiable thirst for knowledge about his world is age-authentic. The metaphors that Cheng provides, her straightforward prose, and the connections she draws between life behind the Iron Curtain and life under American slavery make the difficult concepts Peti must contend with understandable to both him and the reader; children with and without first-hand experience with immigration and relatives in danger in faraway lands will warm to Peti's plight. --Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

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Andrea Cheng
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