A Christian fantasy with a wholesome message and down-on-the-farm twist.

THE BLUE DOOR

From the Threshold series , Vol. 1

A spiritual adventure balances strong Christian messages of family and faith with the challenges of being a teenager on a farm.

This first installment in the Threshold series introduces 14-year-old Prissie Pomeroy, the only daughter in her family (she has five brothers). Life for Prissie on her family farm is pretty mundane: The highlight of her week is a visit from the friendly letter carrier, Milo. However, one day a heavenly visitor changes everything, especially her interactions with Milo, who turns out to be an angel sent to help deliver her a message. This revelation rocks Prissie’s world, with the appearance of angels testing her deep faith and opening her eyes to the many ethereal beings that surround humankind, including her own guardian angel. Kinde dedicates much of this first volume to laying the foundation for the series and clearly defining the hierarchy of angels, which range from protectors to messengers. Although the tale is short on adventure, the majority of chapters open with a short snippet of text featuring fallen angels that hints of great danger for Prissie in future installments. In tandem with Prissie’s attempts to reconcile her new ethereal companions are her struggles to maintain friendships and deal with growing pains.

A Christian fantasy with a wholesome message and down-on-the-farm twist. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-310-72419-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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ANYA'S WAR

It's 1937, and Anya is becoming accustomed to Shanghai. Her family had to flee Odessa in the night after Papa told that ugly policeman he wouldn't join the Communist Party. Now China is home for her whole family: Papa, Mama (a former opera singer), Mama's parents, Babushka and Dedushka, and baby brother Georgi. In Shanghai's French Quarter, they live Jewish lives as if the Japanese weren't advancing on the city. Anya's biggest worry is the prospect of telling her mother she doesn't want to become an opera singer—until the day she finds a baby in the gutter. Will Mama and Papa let her keep the baby? Anya's Shanghai is richly chaotic, polyglot and packed with refugees. Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew, Mandarin Chinese and Italian pepper the dialogue. Meanwhile, immigrant Anya happily devours her buckwheat piroshki with chopsticks after Papa has recited the Hebrew blessings over the food. The chaos of the prose is less felicitous; characters whisk between conversations without segue. A delightfully textured—but confusingly rushed—glimpse at a little-remembered period of Jewish history. (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-37093-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

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Alas, not tight enough to resonate deeply.

RACHEL'S HOPE

From the Rachel Trilogy series , Vol. 3

Rachel Paskar, now 16 in 1905 San Francisco, begins life anew, a refugee with her older sister, brother-in-law, and Menahem, a young boy with whom they escaped from the 1903 Kishinev, Russia, pogrom (Rachel’s Secret, 2012). 

It is a tough life made more complicated by new customs and language. Intertwined with Rachel’s story is that of Sergei, her special friend in Russia, now escaping from a prison sentence in Siberia for fighting the czarist government. Readers explore San Francisco as Rachel and her family learn their way around and begin to make a life. After a long day’s work as a maid, Rachel studies English in a newcomer’s school and does well. She is ambitious, and perhaps as a character she is too nice, almost without faults. Readers will be confident that given time, she will succeed—but not before surviving the ’quake-fire of 1906. The stylistic advantage of having separate chapters about two protagonists, Rachel and Sergei, allows time to pass without detailing what has occurred between events. An added character based on the Jewish-American socialist Anna Strunsky encourages Rachel in her ambition to become a writer but is tangential to the story and disappears from it, one of a number of extraneous details that lessen tension and interfere with what is basically a character study.

Alas, not tight enough to resonate deeply. (historical note, glossary) (Historical fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927583-42-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Second Story Press

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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