Steeped in violence (more implied than graphic) and poverty, but focused on love and hope.

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SUMMER ON THE MOON

Meet Socrates, better known as Socko, on the first day of summer before his eighth-grade year, a summer that will change his life forever.

The musty walls of the dilapidated Kludge Apartments are marred by creepy-looking spiders: tags indicating that the building is the territory of the Tarantulas, a neighborhood gang headed up by a local thug called Rapp. Socko and his friend Damien make it their business to avoid the gang, putting off as long as possible the inevitable day that they will be forced to join. When Socko’s mom announces that they are moving to a house in Moon Ridge Estates, Socko is thankful for the escape but devastated that he cannot bring Damien with him. And when they arrive at the Estates—which is bereft of trees, grass and other people, nothing like the fancy brochures promised—and meet the curmudgeonly great-grandfather that they will be taking care of in exchange for housing, his hopes sink still further. Eventually, Socko meets Livvy and learns that her father owns the now-struggling housing development. At first, there seems to be no way to save it, and no way to help the folks that Socko and his mom have left behind in the old neighborhood, but with some creative thinking and generosity of spirit, miracles might just be possible. The third-person narration is tightly focused through Socko's perspective, adopting a gentle colloquial voice that complements the natural dialogue.

Steeped in violence (more implied than graphic) and poverty, but focused on love and hope. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-56145-626-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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

TUCK EVERLASTING

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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