Hopeful stories about art, activism, friendship, and recovery.

THE PLAIN JANES

From the Janes series , Vol. 1-3

The PLAIN Janes (2007), Janes in Love (2008), and a new entry in the Janes series, Janes Attack Back, released in a single volume.

In the first installment, printed in blue ink, Jane “Main Jane” Beckles was a regular teen until she was caught in a bombing in her city that prompted her parents to move to the suburbs. In her new school, she and her new friends—Jane, Jayne, and Polly Jane—form a guerrilla art group called P.L.A.I.N. (People Loving Art In Neighborhoods). The second entry, printed in pink, has the Janes struggling with interpersonal conflict and a lack of funds for art supplies. Jane corresponds with Miroslaw, the Polish stranger whose life—and sketchbook—she saved in the explosion and whom she visited while he recuperated, unconscious, in hospital. Volume 3, which features green ink, picks up as the Janes scatter for summer break with Main Jane traveling to France to visit Miroslaw and attend an art class taught by his girlfriend. The illustrations smoothly integrate different art styles so that readers experience them at the same time Jane does. Upon returning for senior year, Jane meets Payne, a new student who holds radically different views on art. Their push and pull deftly shows how complex relationships can be and how competition can build both stronger art and stronger friendships. Main characters are white. Unfortunately, the word “tribe” remains in these reprints.

Hopeful stories about art, activism, friendship, and recovery. (Graphic fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-52272-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Though no punches are pulled about the unimaginable atrocity of the death camps, a life-affirming history

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  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

THE LIBRARIAN OF AUSCHWITZ

A teenage girl imprisoned in Auschwitz keeps the secret library of a forbidden school.

Dita Adlerova, 14, is confined in the notorious extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Compared to her fellow inmates, Dita’s relatively lucky. The several thousand residents of camp BIIb are inexplicably allowed to keep their own clothing, their hair, and, most importantly, their children. A young man named Fredy Hirsch maintains a school in BIIb, right under the noses of the Nazis. In Fredy’s classroom, Dita discovers something wonderful: a dangerous collection of eight smuggled books. The tale, based on the real life of Dita Polach Kraus and the events of 1944 and 1945, intertwines the stories of several real people: Dita, Fredy, several little-known war heroes, even a grim cameo from Anne and Margot Frank. Holocaust-knowledgeable readers will have suspicions about how many characters will die horribly (spoiler alert: this is Auschwitz). Yet somehow, myriad storylines told by multiple narrators offer compelling narrative tension. Why does BIIb exist? Will Rudi and Alice have a romance? What’s Fredy’s secret? Will Dr. Mengele subject Dita to his grotesque experiments? Dita’s matter-of-fact perspective, set in a slow build from BIIb to the chaotic starvation of the war’s end, both increases the horror and makes it bearable to read.

Though no punches are pulled about the unimaginable atrocity of the death camps, a life-affirming history . (Historical fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-618-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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