A carefully crafted blend of realism, age-appropriate sensibilities, and children’s interests.

MY LIFE IN THE FISH TANK

When her older brother develops bipolar disorder, a seventh grader must cope with its effect on her family.

When Zinnia’s parents get the call that her older brother, Gabriel, has been in a car accident, time, like Gabriel’s new diagnosis of bipolar disorder, seems to take on a life of its own. Chapter headings that mix vague and specific days and times reinforce this notion. Likewise, flashbacks to odd and even scary events with her brother help Zinny see that Gabriel’s condition was not a sudden onset. Although the story focuses on how Zinny deals with this conflict on a personal level, such as retreating from friends, it also explores the effects of mental illness on Zinny’s entire family (who seem to be white). While Gabriel recovers in a treatment center, Zinny’s narration reveals that her mom wants to keep everything secret, her dad’s working longer hours, her older sister feels guilty, and, with attention elsewhere, her younger brother is neglected. There’s no single savior who helps Zinny but instead a string of people and events that work together: a lunchtime therapy group at school (both group and student body are diverse), a school counselor who notes the harm of “crazy” language, scientific experiments that reframe her thinking, forming new friendships and salvaging old ones, and finding humor where she can. The last brings levity to this tough topic.

A carefully crafted blend of realism, age-appropriate sensibilities, and children’s interests. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3233-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Moving and poetic.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more