A compelling graphic offering that explores relevant gender roles and self-identity through a historical lens.

SOUPY LEAVES HOME

Abused by her domineering father, Pearl reinvents herself as a boy and takes to the road.

In the Depression-era United States, girls have few options, and headstrong and privileged white Pearl has a desire to learn. After her mother’s passing, Pearl is left with her grief-stricken father, who communicates with his fists rather than words. In an impulsive moment, she cuts off her hair, exchanges her fine dress for dungarees, and introduces herself as a boy named Soupy. Soupy meets Ramshackle, an elderly white hobo and a perpetual dreamer who is able to see wonder in the mundane. Ramshackle takes her under his wing and helps her navigate life as a hobo. As Ramshackle’s health declines, Soupy must decide whether she will ever reveal her true self to him. Told in graphic format, Soupy’s journey comes alive through richly color-saturated, usually monochromatic panels that orient readers to a bygone era. Castellucci has created a strong heroine who both defies conventionality and embodies empowerment; as her transformative journey nears its denouement, she makes a resolute decision: “I have to go and face my things or else I’ll never be free,” a message still highly relevant to today’s world.

A compelling graphic offering that explores relevant gender roles and self-identity through a historical lens. (Graphic historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61655-431-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Dark Horse

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe.

PRISONER B-3087

If Anne Frank had been a boy, this is the story her male counterpart might have told. At least, the very beginning of this historical novel reads as such.

It is 1939, and Yanek Gruener is a 10-year old Jew in Kraków when the Nazis invade Poland. His family is forced to live with multiple other families in a tiny apartment as his beloved neighborhood of Podgórze changes from haven to ghetto in a matter of weeks. Readers will be quickly drawn into this first-person account of dwindling freedoms, daily humiliations and heart-wrenching separations from loved ones. Yet as the story darkens, it begs the age-old question of when and how to introduce children to the extremes of human brutality. Based on the true story of the life of Jack Gruener, who remarkably survived not just one, but 10 different concentration camps, this is an extraordinary, memorable and hopeful saga told in unflinching prose. While Gratz’s words and early images are geared for young people, and are less gory than some accounts, Yanek’s later experiences bear a closer resemblance to Elie Wiesel’s Night than more middle-grade offerings, such as Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. It may well support classroom work with adult review first.

A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-45901-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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A wartime drama with enough depth and psychological complexity to satisfy budding bookworms.

A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON

Three plucky orphan siblings are in search of a mother in wartime England.

When their grandmother dies, 12-year-old William, 11-year-old Edmund, and 9-year-old Anna are left in London in the care of an elderly housekeeper. As part of the World War II evacuation of children to safety, they are relocated to the countryside, something the family solicitor hopes may lead to finding adoptive parents. However, they are billeted with the Forresters, an unpleasant family reminiscent of the Dursleys. Bullying by their hosts’ two sons, who despise them; the ever present fear of German attack; and the dread of homelessness test their mettle to the limit. The orphans long to find a home of their own, and good boy William is stressed by his responsibility as head of the small family. Edmund’s desire for revenge against the Forresters and a prank involving a snake get them evicted from their billet, and they end up in a much worse situation. They find sanctuary in the village library and a savior in the librarian, who is married to a German and therefore ostracized by the locals. Mrs. Müller provides them with moral support, a listening ear, and true appreciation and love. The classic books she chooses for them—The Wind in the Willows and Anne of Green Gables, among others—may generate ideas for further reading. All characters are White.

A wartime drama with enough depth and psychological complexity to satisfy budding bookworms. (reading list) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4705-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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