GIRL OF KOSOVO

As in her novel Adem’s Cross (1996), Mead portrays the horrors of the Balkan conflict, this time through the eyes of a young Albanian girl. There has always been the presence of the Serbian army in Zana’s world, but in her 11th year, the real trouble begins. A neighboring farm is destroyed and the family massacred—and that is only the beginning. Shortly thereafter, there is a bombing and Zana’s two youngest brothers and father are killed. Zana herself is badly wounded from the shrapnel, especially in her ankle and hip. The tale follows her through several hospitals, alone and terrified. She is finally united with her family, but the tragedy has left her mother with few coping skills. Inadequate medical care, sporadic visits from an English doctor who has befriended her, and little hope of recovery contribute to Zana’s despondency. But when the village is destroyed and her neighbors threaten to attack Zana’s good friend, who is Serbian, Zana finds the courage to defend her and stand against the vicious crowd. Her father’s words “Don’t let them fill your heart with hate” come back to her and she realizes that she has friends who are considered enemies. In an afterword, the author indicates that the story is based on a family she met when she visited the refugee camps in Albania and Macedonia; the forward gives a short history of the area and sets the scene. This difficult tale will give readers a sense of the sufferings of war and the emotional struggle needed to survive against a totalitarian state. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 11, 2001

ISBN: 0-374-32620-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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An outstanding new edition of this popular modern classic (Newbery Award, 1961), with an introduction by Zena Sutherland and...

ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS

Coming soon!!

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1990

ISBN: 0-395-53680-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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