Reviews for Green Glass Sea
Booklist Reviews 2006 November #2
In November 1943, 10-year-old budding inventor Dewey Kerrigan sets off on a cross-country train ride to be with her father, who is engaged in "war work." She is busy designing a radio when a fellow passenger named Dick Feynman offers to help her. Feynman's presence in this finely wrought first novel is the first clue that Dewey is headed for Los Alamos. The mystery and tension surrounding "war work" and what Dewey knows only as "the gadget" trickles down to the kids living in the Los Alamos compound, who often do without adult supervision. Although disliked by her girl classmates, "Screwy Dewey" enjoys Los Alamos. There are lots of people to talk with about radios (including "Oppie"), and she has the wonderful opportunity to dig through the nearby dump for discarded science stuff. However, when Dewey's father leaves for Washington, she is left to fend off the biggest bully in Los Alamos. The novel occasionally gets mired down in detail, but the characters are exceptionally well drawn, and the compelling, unusual setting makes a great tie-in for history classes. ((Reviewed November 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Spring
In 1943, ten-year-old Dewey's dad is working at Los Alamos with hundreds of other scientists and their families. Klages evokes both the big-sky landscape of the Southwest and a community where "everything is secret," focusing on the society of the children who live there. History and story are drawn together with confidence in this intense but accessible page-turner. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2006 #6
Dewey, ten, embarks alone on a mysterious train trip from her grandmother's home in St. Louis to New Mexico, where she will rejoin her often-absent mathematician father. It's 1943, and Dewey's dad is working at Los Alamos-"the Hill"-with hundreds of other scientists and their families. Klages evokes both the big-sky landscape of the Southwest and a community where "everything is secret" with inviting ease and the right details, focusing particularly on the society of the children who live there. Dewey seems comfortable with her own oddness (she's small for her age, slightly lame, and loves inventing mechanical gizmos) and serves as something of an example to another girl, Suze, who has been trying desperately to fit in. Their burgeoning friendship sees them through bouts of taunting, their parents' ceaseless attention to "the gadget," personal tragedy, and of course the test detonation early on July 16, 1945, which the two girls watch from a mesa two hundred miles away: "Dewey could see the colors and patterns of blankets and shirts that had been indistinct grays a second before, as if it were instantly morning, as if the sun had risen in the south, just this once." Cameo appearances are made by such famous names as Richard Feynman (he helps Dewey build a radio) and Robert Oppenheimer, but the story, an intense but accessible page-turner, firmly belongs to the girls and their families; history and story are drawn together with confidence. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2006 September #2
The author's acknowledgement at the end of this work reveals that the last chapter was originally a short story that subsequently inspired the rest. This insight into the writing process makes sense of (but fails to redeem) the over 200 pages that precede that final chapter. Obviously (perhaps too obviously) well researched and undeniably earnest, this child's-eye view of the development of the atom bomb seems unlikely to find a wide or enthusiastic audience. Crammed with period detail like cigarette brands and radio models, as well as the names of the famous scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, the narrative offers plenty of information but little insight. Main characters Dewey (the bright, plucky, soon-to-be orphan) and Suze (the bully desperate to have friends) are initially antagonistic, but eventually become friends. Unfortunately, too much description and too little action means these characters fail to come to life, making their interactions unconvincing and uninteresting. Secondary characters are even more broadly drawn and less engaging. Unusual and thoughtful, but ultimately unsuccessful. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 October #4
Klages makes an impressive debut with an ambitious, meticulously researched novel set during WWII. Writing from the points of view of two displaced children, she successfully recreates life at Los Alamos Camp, where scientists and mathematicians converge with their families to construct and test the first nuclear bomb. Eleven-year-old Dewey, the daughter of a math professor, is shunned by the other girls at the camp due to her passionate interest in mechanics and her fascination with the dump, which holds all sorts of mechanisms and tools she can use for her projects. Her classmate Suze is also often snubbed and has been nicknamed "Truck" by her classmates (" 'cause she's kind of big and likes to push people around," explains one boy). The two outcasts reluctantly come together when Dewey's father is called away to Washington, D.C., and Dewey temporarily moves in with Suze's family. Although the girls do not get along at first (Suze draws a chalk line in her room to separate their personal spaces), they gradually learn to rely on each other for comfort, support and companionship. Details about the eraâ€"popular music, pastimes and productsâ€"add authenticity to the story as do brief appearances of some historic figures including Robert Oppenheimer, who breaks the news to Dewey that her father has been killed in a car accident. If the book is a little slow-moving at times, the author provides much insight into the controversies surrounding the making of the bomb and brings to life the tensions of war experienced by adults and children alike. Ages 9-up. (Oct.) [Page 51]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2006 November
Gr 5-8 Two girls spend a year in Los Alamos as their parents work on the secret gadget that will end World War II. Dewey is a mechanically minded 10-year-old who gets along fine with the scientists at the site, but is teased by girls her own age. When her mathematician father is called away, she moves in with Suze, who initially detests her new roommate. The two draw closer, though, and their growing friendship is neatly set against the tenseness of the Los Alamos compound as the project nears completion. Clear prose brings readers right into the unusual atmosphere of the secretive scientific community, seen through the eyes of the kids and their families. Dewey is an especially engaging character, plunging on with her mechanical projects and ignoring any questions about gender roles. Occasional shifts into first person highlight the protagonist's most emotional moments, including her journey to the site and her reaction to her father's unexpected death. After the atomic bomb test succeeds, ethical concerns of both youngsters and adults intensify as the characters learn how it is ultimately used. Many readers will know as little about the true nature of the project as the girls do, so the gradual revelation of facts is especially effective, while those who already know about Los Alamos's historical significance will experience the story in a different, but equally powerful, way. Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR [Page 138]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2007 February
In 1943, Dewey, a smart eleven-year-old girl who likes to invent things, is sent to live with her scientist father in New Mexico in a guarded town that does not officially exist. Scientists and mathematicians working on a secret project to end the war surround her. She deals with bullies and mean girls and finally becomes friends with Suze, with whose family she must live after her father's death. The scientists take their families out for a picnic on the night that the "gadget" is tested, and they all witness the explosion of the first atomic bomb 220 miles away from them. Suze's parents take the girls to the site where they pick up pieces of the green glass formed by the intense heat of the bomb This quiet book looks at how the children of the men and women working on the Manhattan Project lived. It is interesting to learn about the secret town of Los Alamos from the youths' viewpoint and to see how the families of the scientists existed. Like Gennifer Choldenko's Al Capone Does My Shirts (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2004/VOYA April 2004), this book takes a time and place in history that has rarely been explored and shows how children are children even when they live in unusual cirumstances. The book is well written, with intelligent characters and understandable descriptions of the place and the work being accomplished. Its well-researched information, including the debate that occurred when the scientists realized what they had created, will appeal to readers of historical fiction.-Cindy Faughnan 5Q 4P M J Copyright 2007 Voya Reviews.