This is an introduction more than anything else, as it nibbles on the edges of a feast. (Historical fiction. 10-12)

THE GIRLS OF GETTYSBURG

Miller explores the harrowing and bloody days of the Battle of Gettysburg through the eyes of three girls.

Annie Gordon has run away from home and disguised herself as a boy to enlist in the Portsmouth Rifles of the Ninth Virginia Army. Her inexperience earns her the nickname “strawfoot,” yet she proves to be a worthy soldier with her level head and marksmanship. In Gettsyburg, a local merchant’s daughter, Tillie Pierce, assumes she can watch the war like a parade but is pressed into service as a nurse. The third point of view is the most compelling, provided by Grace Bryan, the fictionalized daughter of another historical figure, freed black peach farmer Abraham Bryan. Grace’s story provides the most suspense, as she is cut off from her family when the soldiers enter the city. The horrors of war are appropriately smoothed for young readers, although there is violence and death. While humanizing this well-covered piece of American history, the three disparate views cannot encompass its breadth and come off as generic soldier, nurse and freed black slave trying to cover the female Civil War experience. The historical minor figures (Mary McAllister, another Gettysburg shopkeeper, and Bryan) glint with bright specificity, leaving readers yearning for more. An author’s note gives insight into Miller’s sources and process.

This is an introduction more than anything else, as it nibbles on the edges of a feast. (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3163-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

THE CONSPIRACY

From the Plot to Kill Hitler series , Vol. 1

Near the end of World War II, two kids join their parents in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

Max, 12, lives with his parents and his older sister in a Berlin that’s under constant air bombardment. During one such raid, a mortally wounded man stumbles into the white German family’s home and gasps out his last wish: “The Führer must die.” With this nighttime visitation, Max and Gerta discover their parents have been part of a resistance cell, and the siblings want in. They meet a colorful band of upper-class types who seem almost too whimsical to be serious. Despite her charming levity, Prussian aristocrat and cell leader Frau Becker is grimly aware of the stakes. She enlists Max and Gerta as couriers who sneak forged identification papers to Jews in hiding. Max and Gerta are merely (and realistically) cogs in the adults’ plans, but there’s plenty of room for their own heroism. They escape capture, rescue each other when they’re caught out during an air raid, and willingly put themselves repeatedly at risk to catch a spy. The fictional plotters—based on a mix of several real anti-Hitler resistance cells—are portrayed with a genuine humor, giving them the space to feel alive even in such a slim volume.

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35902-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The bird’s-eye view into this pivotal moment provides a powerful story, one that adults will applaud—but between the...

MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON

The ugly brutality of the Jim Crow South is recounted in dulcet, poetic tones, creating a harsh and fascinating blend.

Fact and fiction pair in the story of Rose Lee Carter, 13, as she copes with life in a racially divided world. It splits wide open when a 14-year-old boy from Chicago named Emmett Till goes missing. Jackson superbly blends the history into her narrative. The suffocating heat, oppression, and despair African-Americans experienced in 1955 Mississippi resonate. And the author effectively creates a protagonist with plenty of suffering all her own. Practically abandoned by her mother, Rose Lee is reviled in her own home for the darkness of her brown skin. The author ably captures the fear and dread of each day and excels when she shows the peril of blacks trying to assert their right to vote in the South, likely a foreign concept to today’s kids. Where the book fails, however, is in its overuse of descriptors and dialect and the near-sociopathic zeal of Rose Lee's grandmother Ma Pearl and her lighter-skinned cousin Queen. Ma Pearl is an emotionally remote tyrant who seems to derive glee from crushing Rose Lee's spirits. And Queen is so glib and self-centered she's almost a cartoon.

The bird’s-eye view into this pivotal moment provides a powerful story, one that adults will applaud—but between the avalanche of old-South homilies and Rose Lee’s relentlessly hopeless struggle, it may be a hard sell for younger readers. (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-78510-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more