MOONSHINER'S SON

New folks are turning up in the hollow where June Higgins is training his son Tom, 12, as a moonshiner—a demanding craft handed down in their family for generations. Meanwhile, the new preacher's daughter, Amy Taylor, is out to thwart makers of a substance she thinks of as pure evil; Andy, a friendly collector of tales, is glad to share a jug or even help out with the still; and, drawn by bootleggers coming to the area during Prohibition, there are revenuers. Adroitly, Reeder sets up her story to explore some complex issues. June, illiterate but a community leader and a grand storyteller, takes pride in maintaining high standards while others degrade their whiskey with shortcuts suggested by bootleggers. Moonshine is a regular feature at local work-parties and other traditional gatherings; it's also known to start fights and cause abuse. Tom becomes friends with Amy, in the process realizing that a misleading partial truth may be the moral equivalent of a lie; learns to read at the Taylors' new school; discovers that he, too, is a gifted storyteller; and resolves, dramatically but plausibly, to give up moonshining despite Pa's fierce opposition. At the same time, Mrs. Taylor makes available a new source of income by locating a market for Appalachian crafts, and her husband mellows enough to become more accepted. Another fine offering from the author of the much- honored Shades of Gray (1989): with strong, memorable characters and a compelling plot, an unusually thoughtful and well-crafted historical novel of these mountain people. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 30, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-775805-2

Page Count: 206

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1993

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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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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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