Writing with care to keep from too-explicit detail, Gemeinhart presents a rousingly riveting two-hanky read.

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THE HONEST TRUTH

With only his faithful dog, Beau, for company, Mark, a boy with recurrent cancer, runs away from home to fulfil his dream of climbing Mount Rainier.

Told in alternating first-person voices, Gemeinhart’s heart-rending yet suspenseful novel tells the equally gripping stories of the boy who went to the mountain and the girl who stayed behind. In certain respects, the story of Mark’s best friend, Jessie, who spends the novel waiting, hoping and worrying, is the more morally complex of the two. Even though he’s only 12, Mark makes a personal decision that affects others but in the end is his choice. But Jessie is the keeper of the secret, a task that becomes harder and harder as Mark’s parents become increasingly frantic and a dangerous snowstorm approaches. Mark, who is plagued by headaches and nausea, must use every ounce of his courage and smarts to persevere. Along the way, he’s helped and hindered by various characters; the most poignant is a biologist who lost his son in Iraq, and the most fabulous is a dog loyal enough to give lessons to Lassie. An overexplanatory conclusion mars the story, though it’s still undeniably moving.

Writing with care to keep from too-explicit detail, Gemeinhart presents a rousingly riveting two-hanky read. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-66573-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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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...

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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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