Admiration for Anne’s writings is always good to see, but this fanciful cat’s-eye view minimizes the events and the...

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THE CAT WHO LIVED WITH ANNE FRANK

The Holocaust through the eyes of a cat.

When Peter joins the Frank family in the Secret Annex, he brings his cat along and it is this cat, named Mouschi, who is the storyteller, narrating in a stylized voice. Mouschi is drawn to Anne and her diary, and unlike the people in hiding, he can explore the Amsterdam neighborhood where he sees “armed Black Spider Soldiers and Dogs patrol, snarl, bark.” The authors reference this description of the swastika to a line spoken by one of the von Trapp children in the movie The Sound of Music. In addition, Mouschi refers to Jews as “Yellow Stars,” which the authors deem “a fine feline fit.” Digitized ink, acrylic, and pencil illustrations use an intense blue for the hideout but present a colorful city and brightly lit nighttime windows, all this despite blackouts enforced during World War II. Brief but inspiring quotations from Anne’s diary are hand-lettered. The authors gloss over the exact horror of the deportations and killings even though, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 107,000 Jews were deported to concentration camps from the Netherlands, with 5,200 surviving. Or as the author’s note unfortunately says: “Many Jews were forced into labor or killed.”

Admiration for Anne’s writings is always good to see, but this fanciful cat’s-eye view minimizes the events and the systematic annihilation. (sources) (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4150-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

A WHALE OF THE WILD

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers.

DRAGONS VS. UNICORNS

From the Kate the Chemist series

A fifth grade girl brings her love of chemistry to the school play.

Kate loves science so much she’s determined to breathe fire. Of course she knows that she needs adult supervision, and so, with her science teacher’s help, Kate demonstrates an experiment with cornstarch and a blowtorch that nearly sets her teacher’s cactus on fire. Consequences ensue. Can someone who loves science as much as Kate does find pleasure spending her fall break at drama camp? It turns out that even the school play—Dragons vs. Unicorns—needs a chemist, though, and Kate saves the day with glue and glitter. She’s sabotaged along the way, but everything is fine after Kate and her frenemy agree to communicate better (an underwhelming response to escalating bullying). Doodles decorate the pages; steps for the one experiment described that can be done at home—making glittery unicorn-horn glue—are included. The most exciting experiments depicted, though, include flames or liquid nitrogen and could only be done with the help of a friendly science teacher. Biberdorf teaches chemistry at the University of Texas and also performs science-education programs as “Kate the Chemist”; in addition to giving her protagonist her name and enthusiasm, she also seems represented in Kate-the-character’s love of the fictional YouTube personality “Dr. Caroline.” Kate and her nemesis are white; Kate’s best friends are black and South Asian.

A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11655-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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