A handsome volume offering conversation starters, writing prompts, or thoughtful browsing pleasure.

MY LITTLE BOOK OF BIG QUESTIONS

The prolific German picture-book creator here fills nearly 200 pages with contemplative questions—and corresponding images.

While some spreads pair a single thought and illustration in a verso/recto pattern, other ideas are examined over several pages. The book opens and concludes with children on chairs, first musing about growing up, later dreaming; also near the end are youth on a tightrope (acknowledging fear) and swing (aiming high). Some questions deal with the everyday, tangible, or familiar realm: “What if the winter never ends?”; “Why are they so mean to me?” Others are more existential: “When somebody is very old and dies, / and a tree grows out of his grave, / is he then the tree?” Teckentrup maintains interest with ever changing page designs punctuated with white space. Her beautifully textured, layered compositions are created by scanning and digitally composing art that has been printed and painted by hand. While the palette changes with the mood, the art is tonally consistent, lending an overall unity. Skin tones range from realistic (brown) to the fantastic (blue or decorated, i.e., a starlit silhouette). The variety of questions ensures that a wide swath of reflective readers will find something to ponder, whether it is “Will he like me?” as subsequent pages show two (possibly) boys getting closer to kissing or the rhetorical “Do birds like to fly?”

A handsome volume offering conversation starters, writing prompts, or thoughtful browsing pleasure. (Picture book. 6-adult)

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-3-7913-7376-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Prestel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.

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WONDER

After being home-schooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into middle school life when he looks so different from everyone else?

Auggie has had 27 surgeries to correct facial anomalies he was born with, but he still has a face that has earned him such cruel nicknames as Freak, Freddy Krueger, Gross-out and Lizard face. Though “his features look like they’ve been melted, like the drippings on a candle” and he’s used to people averting their eyes when they see him, he’s an engaging boy who feels pretty ordinary inside. He’s smart, funny, kind and brave, but his father says that having Auggie attend Beecher Prep would be like sending “a lamb to the slaughter.” Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too.

A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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