Friday, September 16, 2011

Short Stuff: The Duel

I've been keeping on track with reading a book a day for a while now, but this weekend will stretch me -- I'm spending Friday and Saturday at Foolscap talking about books instead of reading them, and then Sunday is the big Boffer Party to celebrate X's entry to teenagerdom, Kevin's entry to old age, and Pirates! So I'm cheating by reading very short books, in particular short books that won prizes for best kidlit translated into English.

Today's book was Duel, by David Grossman, winner of the 2000 Marsh Award, translated from Hebrew by Betsy Rosenberg.  It's a standard fifth grade type book, with a kid dealing with a tough situation and succeeding.  I ate these books up with a spoon in my day, and would have devoured this one with extra pleasure for its setting in Jerusalem and interesting bits about histories I'm still unfamiliar with.  It's a kid watching two elderly men fight -- one literally challenges the other to a duel with pistols at noon, and the boy finds a way to stop the fight, and reading it gives hints about life in Israel in the 60's (when the book is set) as well as thirty years earlier -- I hadn't known that women seen fraternizing with the British would have their heads shaved.  I'd leave the books out for my kids to read except that it's due already.

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