While middle-graders seeking pleasure reading will likely find the tale dull, extra materials—including a map, a glossary,...

TO THE COPPER COUNTRY

MIHAELA'S JOURNEY

From the Great Lakes series

Mihaela must adapt to her new life on Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula after emigrating from Croatia in the late 19th century.

Although Mihaela’s father left his farm in Croatia for the copper mines of Michigan to help support his family in the midst of a drought, his worsening eyesight makes it difficult to work. When American doctors can’t help, he asks his wife—an experienced healer—to join him, along with their three children. Based on author Carney-Coston’s great-grandparents’ immigration story, the tale follows the 11-year-old white girl as she adjusts to her new life: helping her mother run a boardinghouse for other copper miners; longing for her cousin, Katarina; and familiarizing herself with Michigan herbs to help her father see again. It certainly captures a moment in time, but the overall tone feels dated, and the story lacks drama; even when Mihaela’s brothers knock over a beehive and each receives manifold stings, the event happens offstage, and they are quickly healed before any real danger can set in. The ending also feels too neat, with Mihaela turning 12 and receiving a china doll for her birthday, along with the news that her entire family is moving to Michigan and that she can start going to school.

While middle-graders seeking pleasure reading will likely find the tale dull, extra materials—including a map, a glossary, historical images, and Carney-Coston’s own family recipes—add richness to this short novel, making it a good resource for classroom units on immigration. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8143-4363-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Wayne State Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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