Stones in Water by Donna Jo Napoli

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Synopsis

The day Roberto and his friend Samuele are rounded up by German soldiers and put on a train marks both a beginning and an end. The boys have now become part of the war, providing forced labor for the Nazis at various work camps deep inside German territory. And it's the ending to all they've known -- before their lives as children in Venice, their innocence. For Roberto, the present is unbearable -- backbreaking work, near starvation, and protecting Samuele's secret that, if discovered, would mean death for both boys. Escape is Roberto's only hope, but the Russian winter is upon the land -- and any hope seems remote. But compared to the horrors he has suffered, can freezing be worse? Using the shimmering language that has marked her books Zel and The Magic Circle, Donna Jo Napoli writes a wrenching novel of a boy caught up in a war he hates. As pure as the snow that covers the vast lands he must cross, and as hard as the gift stone he carries with him as a kind of talisman, this is both a war story and a survival story. It is not only the story of how Roberto lives to tell his tale of cruelty and terror, but also how dreams and hope can endure despite the harshest tests. Donna Jo Napoli based this novel loosely on fact. She is the author of many award-winning books, among them Zel, a Bulletin Blue Ribbon, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and a Publishers Weekly Choice of the Year's Best Books.
 

About Donna Jo Napoli

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Donna Jo Napoli was born in 1948. She has earned three degrees from Harvard University: a B.A. in Mathematics, an M.A. in Italian Literature, and a Ph.D. in General and Romance Linguistics. She has taught on the university level since 1970, is widely published in scholarly journals and has received numerous grants and fellowships in the area of linguistics. She teaches linguistics and was chair of the linguistics program at Swarthmore College, where she also teaches courses in writing fiction for children. In addition to writing for children, she is a published poet and coeditor of four poetry volumes. Napoli was introduced to Dutton by Lloyd Alexander. Dutton promptly published her first middle grade novel, Soccer Shock, in 1991 to critical and popular acclaim. In 1993, Napoli's versatility became evident with the publication of The Prince of the Pond which won the New Jersey Reading Association's M. Jerry Weiss Book Award in 1997. Napoli has also won a Bulletin Blue Ribbon, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and a Publishers Weekly Choice of the Years Best books for her novel Zel. Napoli's Stones in Water won the Golden Kite Award in 1997.
 
Published October 1, 1997 by Dutton Juvenile. 224 pages
Genres: War, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, History, Travel, Comics & Graphic Novels. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Roberto, a Venetian boy who is about to graduate from middle school, is so eager to attend a rare American movie that he makes a worrisome bargain with a boy who is always in trouble.

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Publishers Weekly

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This gripping, meticulously researched story (loosely based on the life of an actual survivor), set in Europe during WWII, is told from the point of view of a Venetian boy forced into war against his

Sep 29 1997 | Read Full Review of Stones in Water

Publishers Weekly

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PW's boxed review called this story of a Venetian gondolier's son and two friends, one Jewish, who are forcibly taken by Nazi soldiers, ""gripping and meticulously researched."" Ages 10-14.

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Publishers Weekly

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Roberto gives half his food rations to Samuele (because a boy who knows Samuele's secret is confiscating his food), and Samuele helps Roberto fall asleep by telling him comforting stories from the Old Testament.

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