While the plot revolves around Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, this story is far from one

READ REVIEW

STAR-CROSSED

A sweet story of young love amid middle school theatrics.

Matilda, who goes by Mattie, is an exceptionally thoughtful white teen who at times drives her closest friends nuts with her uncertainty and need for time to think. However, her pensiveness serves her well as the whole eighth grade, under the guidance of her favorite teacher, Mr. Torres, sets out to stage a production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Mattie truly connects with the play, so when the male lead is injured and backs out of the production, she is a natural choice for assuming the trousers role as Romeo. The only potential problem is her nerves, since she has begun to develop more-than-friends feelings for her Juliet, the charismatic white English transplant Gemma. Mattie’s genuine inflections and stream-of-consciousness narrative resonate well with the early-adolescent experience. Mattie is fortunate to have a very supportive family, loyal friends, and a mentor teacher as well as diverse classmates that are perhaps more tolerant than most middle schoolers realistically are. This idealized, benevolent society lends a very rosy tinge to a tale of questioning one’s burgeoning sexuality, which may feel false to some older or more jaded readers. Nevertheless, readers cannot help but root for Mattie as she discovers bravery she never gave herself credit for, both onstage and in life.

While the plot revolves around Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, this story is far from one . (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7848-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

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?

more