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A duology opener with a truly likable hero and clever puzzling.

A determined refugee will do whatever it takes to get back to his parents—even becoming a British spy in Nazi Germany.

When 11-year-old Max Bretzfeld, a Jewish boy from Berlin, is sent to England on the Kindertransport in 1939, he’s accompanied by two tiny men on his shoulders whom only he can see. The German kobold and Jewish dybbuk rarely interact with Max, but they comically comment on his circumstances. And such circumstances! After a working-class upbringing, he’s fostered in England by Jewish baron Lord Montagu. Most of the white non-Jewish people Max encounters are shudderingly classist, racist, and antisemitic, but after a childhood in Nazi Germany, this is hardly new. Nonetheless, he’ll do anything to get back to his parents, and thus, Max sets out to become a spy. While it may be hard to convince British intelligence to send him back to Germany, Max will do whatever it takes. Despite the compelling premise and likable characters, readers will have to wait for the sequel for a payoff. After a strong start, the kobold and dybbuk are relegated to the roles of Greek chorus, and the story’s fascination with the real-life people who inspired the secondary characters is such that various questions concerning them are intriguing but remain unresolved in this volume. Nonetheless, this book—packed with sideways thinking, sociopolitical insights, and a Marmite-eating kangaroo named Kathy—delights.

A duology opener with a truly likable hero and clever puzzling. (historical note, annotated bibliography) (Historical fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2024

ISBN: 9780593112083

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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From the Bad Kitty (chapter book) series

This kid-friendly satire ably sets claws into a certain real-life franchise.

A trip to the Love Love Angel Kitty World theme park (“The Most Super Incredibly Happy Place on Earth!”) turns out to be an exercise in lowered expectations…to say the least.

When Uncle Murray wins a pair of free passes it seems at first like a dream come true—at least for Kitty, whose collection of Love Love Kitty merch ranges from branded underwear to a pink chainsaw. But the whole trip turns into a series of crises beginning with the (as it turns out) insuperable challenge of getting a cat onto an airplane, followed by the twin discoveries that the hotel room doesn’t come with a litter box and that the park doesn’t allow cats. Even kindhearted Uncle Murray finds his patience, not to say sanity, tested by extreme sticker shock in the park’s gift shop and repeated exposures to Kitty World’s literally nauseating theme song (notation included). He is not happy. Fortunately, the whole cloying enterprise being a fiendish plot to make people so sick of cats that they’ll pick poultry as favorite pets instead, the revelation of Kitty’s feline identity puts the all-chicken staff to flight and leaves the financial coffers plucked. Uncle Murray’s White, dumpy, middle-aged figure is virtually the only human one among an otherwise all-animal cast in Bruel’s big, rapidly sequenced, and properly comical cartoon panels.

This kid-friendly satire ably sets claws into a certain real-life franchise. (Graphic satire. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20808-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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