ECLIPSE

Eight-year-old Peti doesn’t mind giving up his room to his immigrant aunt, uncle and 12-year-old cousin Gabor. Peti prefers sleeping in his parent’s room, where he feels safer. It’s 1952, and Gabor’s family has just escaped Hungary via Australia. The arrangement is anything but easy. Peti’s uncle can’t find a job; the “guests” outstay their welcome with the landlady; Gabor makes his displeasure with America known. As tensions rise, Peti begins to wish that it had been his loving grandfather Apa who made the trip instead of his sometimes mean cousin. Peti’s mother Marika takes a job of her own and continues to try to get her father out from behind the Iron Curtain. Peti befriends the local librarian, and she takes him to visit Rankin House, a stop on the Underground Railroad. That small taste of history leads Peti to appreciate the ties of his own family. With this sequel to Marika (2002), Cheng continues to chronicle in fiction stories similar to those of her own family. Short, episodic chapters and poetic prose make this a good choice for those of a literary bent. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-932425-21-7

Page Count: 136

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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ONE CRAZY SUMMER

A flight from New York to Oakland, Calif., to spend the summer of 1968 with the mother who abandoned Delphine and her two sisters was the easy part. Once there, the negative things their grandmother had said about their mother, Cecile, seem true: She is uninterested in her daughters and secretive about her work and the mysterious men in black berets who visit. The sisters are sent off to a Black Panther day camp, where Delphine finds herself skeptical of the worldview of the militants while making the best of their situation. Delphine is the pitch-perfect older sister, wise beyond her years, an expert at handling her siblings: “Just like I know how to lift my sisters up, I also knew how to needle them just right.” Each girl has a distinct response to her motherless state, and Williams-Garcia provides details that make each characterization crystal clear. The depiction of the time is well done, and while the girls are caught up in the difficulties of adults, their resilience is celebrated and energetically told with writing that snaps off the page. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-076088-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2010

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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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