Readers will hear the history come alive.

LORETTA LITTLE LOOKS BACK

THREE VOICES GO TELL IT

Three members of the Little family, as preteens and teens, tell their personal and family stories.

First, Loretta Little speaks, from 1927 to 1930, about her life picking cotton as a sharecropper, watching her father endure degradation under conditions that are less than completely free. Next, ’Retta’s little brother, Roly, speaks from 1942 to 1950. The family now has their own small plot of land, but terrorists poison their animals to keep them in check. After this heartbreak, Roly finds love, marries, and has a child, Aggie B., the final narrator, who brings readers from 1962 to 1968. Aggie is the youngest volunteer in her town’s voter-registration effort, helping Aunt ’Retta to study for the unfair test and then to save up pennies to pay the poll tax. She is beaten savagely by racists and attends the Democratic National Convention twice, giving readers a front-row seat to history. Author Pinkney’s writing is alive with imagery; the unusual monologue format works ideally read aloud in pieces and offers rich opportunities for readers' theater. Each character presents an engaging contrast to the others, and the slow progress from Jim Crow days to the 1960s illuminates a little-examined piece of U.S. history while making it deeply personal. Illustrator Pinkney’s grayscale paintings open and close chapters with rounded frames and expressive features, memorably connecting and highlighting the story's themes of family and land.

Readers will hear the history come alive. (author's notes, illustrator's notes, photos, further reading) (Historical fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53677-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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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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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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