Dino-fueled fun with depth

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DACTYL HILL SQUAD

From the Dactyl Hill Squad series , Vol. 1

Magdalys Roca and her fellow orphans ride dinosaurs and solve mysteries in Civil War–era New York City.

It’s Manhattan, July 1863, and dinosaurs are a part of everyday life. While a group of children from the Colored Orphan Asylum are seeing a play, riots break out on the streets. Their orphanage is burned down and the other orphans kidnapped. The children find refuge in Brooklyn, learn how to ride pterodactyls, and, as the Dactyl Hill Squad, work with the Vigilance Committee to save their asylum mates from being sold South as slaves. Afro-Cuban Magdalys also has personal mysteries to solve, but nothing is easy when it involves Richard Riker, the evil, white city magistrate behind the kidnappings. Magdalys, used to fending for herself, finds it difficult to be a team player, but her newly discovered ability to communicate telepathically with dinosaurs makes her invaluable. In the end, not only does Magdalys save the day, but she eventually grows to appreciate being a part of a team. Pertinent historical social issues—still very much relevant—are woven into the story. Useful notes explain much, including the use of some modern language. Though the pacing is uneven at times and development of side characters is minimal, this action-packed historical-fantasy adventure should have wide appeal, leaving fans eager for the next installment.

Dino-fueled fun with depth . (Historical fantasy. 8-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-26881-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Don’t miss this brave hero as she confronts anti-immigrant hatred in a timely historical novel.

THREE KEYS

From the Front Desk series

Sixth grader Mia Tang returns to battle racism in this thrilling sequel to the Asian/Pacific American Award–winning Front Desk (2018).

The Tangs, who emigrated from China when Mia was little, are now the proud owners of the Calivista Motel. Mia works the front desk along with her friends Lupe Garcia, who is Mexican, and Jason Yao, who is Chinese. Her world quickly becomes clouded by the upcoming election, in which California’s Prop 187, which would ban undocumented immigrants from access to health care and public schooling, is on the ballot. The author’s note highlights personal experiences with racism and provides additional information on this historic vote. The storyline expertly weaves together the progress and setbacks Mia experiences as her family continues to work, seemingly endlessly on the edge of poverty. Lupe reveals that her family is undocumented, creating a portrait of fear as her father is jailed. The impending vote has significant consequences for all immigrants, not just the Garcias, as racial threats increase. With the help of a cast of strong supporting characters, Mia bravely uses her voice and her pen to change opinions—with family, friends, teachers, and even voters. The lessons she learns helping her friends become the key to addressing racism, as one wise friend advises: “You gotta listen, you gotta care, and most importantly, you gotta keep trying.”

Don’t miss this brave hero as she confronts anti-immigrant hatred in a timely historical novel.   (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-59138-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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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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