Ignore the title: this is a good story already.

THIS WOULD MAKE A GOOD STORY SOMEDAY

Rising seventh-grader Sara Johnston-Fisher’s summer journal chronicles a family cross-country trip and her own personal journey from acutely self-conscious preteen to someone “new and improved.”

Sara and her friends have grand plans to reinvent themselves in the summer before middle school, but Sara’s are derailed when her mother Mimi wins a fellowship to take and write about a family train trip. Sara’s mortified by her family—two moms, college-age sister Laurel, who has a tongue stud, Root, Laurel’s laid-back California “partner,” and her all-caps–loud little sister—and she’s horrified by their New Train Friends: diminutive Travis, his writer dad, and his two nonagenarian “aunties.” The author comments on a variety of social issues through Laurel and Root’s social consciousness and warns readers of the lack of privacy on the internet through Travis’ computer savvy. Sara includes her own impressions of scenic and historical highlights of the trip as well as notes, postcards, and excerpts from other’s writings. But this story is never preachy; it ranges from laugh-out-loud funny to incredibly moving, and the voices are true. Fans of Levy’s Fletcher Family novels will be happy to hear more about Frog’s friend Ladybug, Sara’s little sister. Ladybug is Asian-American, and Travis is depicted as black on the cover; Sara and the others appear to be white.

Ignore the title: this is a good story already. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93817-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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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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