It’s important that this survivor testimony has been captured, but this is not a particularly compelling addition to the...

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THE GIRL IN THE HAYSTACK

An account of the Holocaust through the eyes of 7-year-old Lyuba, a real Jewish girl who survived by hiding in a haystack for 18 months.

It is 1941, and Lyuba and her mother have been terribly injured in a pogrom. Her father is making preparations that Lyuba, for the most part, doesn’t understand and can’t explain, though she knows that life has gotten scary. When the Nazis prepare to murder everyone in the ghetto, Lyuba’s parents send away her sister, Hanna, who is blonde and blue-eyed and can pass for non-Jewish. (Horribly, Hanna is the only member of the family not to survive the war; she is captured and tortured to death at age 11, as readers learn toward the end.) Lyuba and her parents, meanwhile, hide for a year and a half in the haystack of their beloved Ukrainian friend Pavlo. They whisper, barely moving, and fall silent when warned of Nazis by Pavlo’s dog. A few chapters purport to be from the dog’s perspective rather than Lyuba’s; these impair the book’s verisimilitude without improving the emotional or narrative flow. Overall, much of the process is choppy, and Lyuba’s naiveté necessarily restricts the narrative. A biographical note by MacWilliams, who interviewed Lyuba (now known as Laura Oberlender), tells us that she came to the United States, married, and now has six granddaughters.

It’s important that this survivor testimony has been captured, but this is not a particularly compelling addition to the rich canon of Holocaust survivor memoirs for children. (historical note, photographs) (Historical fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947175-09-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Serving House Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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A crisp historical vignette.

BEN'S REVOLUTION

BENJAMIN RUSSELL AND THE BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL

A boy experiences the Boston Tea Party, the response to the Intolerable Acts, and the battle at Breed’s Hill in Charlestown.

Philbrick has taken his Bunker Hill (2013), pulled from its 400 pages the pivotal moments, added a 12-year-old white boy—Benjamin Russell—as the pivot, and crafted a tale of what might have happened to him during those days of unrest in Boston from 1773 to 1775 (Russell was a real person). Philbrick explains, in plainspoken but gradually accelerating language, the tea tax, the Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, and the quartering of troops in Boston as well as the institution of a military government. Into this ferment, he introduces Benjamin Russell, where he went to school, his part-time apprenticeship at Isaiah Thomas’ newspaper, sledding down Beacon Hill, and the British officer who cleaned the cinders from the snow so the boys could sled farther and farther. It is these humanizing touches that make war its own intolerable act. Readers see Benjamin, courtesy of Minor’s misty gouache-and-watercolor tableaux, as he becomes stranded outside Boston Neck and becomes a clerk for the patriots. Significant characters are introduced, as is the geography of pre-landfilled Boston, to gain a good sense of why certain actions took place where they did. The final encounter at Breed’s Hill demonstrates how a battle can be won by retreating.

A crisp historical vignette. (maps, author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Historical fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16674-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Fold down the drawbridge and step through. Mind the mucky patches.

LIFT, LOOK, AND LEARN CASTLE

UNCOVER THE SECRETS OF A MEDIEVAL FORTRESS

Flurries of small-to-tiny flaps give good cause to linger at each stop on this buttery-to-battlements castle tour.

It’s not all typical 13th-century feasting and fighting on display either, as opening teasers warn of 16 anachronistic items (among them a pair of boxer shorts), a lost treasure and a spy—or maybe ghost—to spot along the way. Castle de Chevalier comes equipped with a lord and lady, mail-clad men at arms and servants of diverse sorts. There’s also a well-stocked torture chamber/dungeon and, as revealed in cutaway views and beneath the diminutive die-cut flaps, thriving populations of bats, rats and spiders…not to mention the occasional detached head. The visit ends with a tournament, where tents, spectators and jousting knights can be viewed in situ or rearranged to suit with separate punch-out versions. Except for an arrant disconnect on the chapel spread, Pipe’s flippant commentary supplies tolerable if rudimentary bits of plot and explication. Though not so maniacally awash in microbusiness as the illustrations in Stephen Biesty’s Cross-Sections: Castle (written by Richard Platt, 1994), Taylord’s bustling cartoon scenes may well require a magnifying glass to make out all the detail. The same applies to the cutaways and Victorian-era rooms in the simultaneously published Lift, Look, and Learn Doll’s House.

Fold down the drawbridge and step through. Mind the mucky patches. (Informational novelty. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-78312-081-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Carlton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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