THE WAR WITHIN

A NOVEL OF THE CIVIL WAR

Presented as the first-person diary of Hannah Green, 13, during the months of December and January 1862–63, a recounting of what happens to the only Jewish family in Holly Springs, Mississippi, when they were forced to leave. Ulysses Grant, preparing for the second siege of Vicksburg, issued General Order #11, which evacuated Jews from the territory under his command because he wrongly considered all to be profiteers. (President Lincoln soon overturned the order.) As the family, which supports the cause of the Confederacy and also holds slaves, flees, Hannah begins to comprehend that Jews are being treated in the same way as African-Americans and she starts to develop some understanding and sympathy for those to whom she had always felt superior. But Matas’s work of historical fiction doesn’t read like the diary of a girl; rather, it is the work of an author who never finds the right voice for the cardboard characters, especially the unsympathetic Hannah (who endlessly reminds the reader that she is a “Southern lady”) and some of the stereotyped “Yankees” and “Rebs.” Although the history is accurate, the book is turgid and off-putting. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-82935-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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An outstanding new edition of this popular modern classic (Newbery Award, 1961), with an introduction by Zena Sutherland and...

ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS

Coming soon!!

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1990

ISBN: 0-395-53680-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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