A moving tale of ordinary soldiers in a great conflict who find solace in music.

SOLDIER SONG

A TRUE STORY OF THE CIVIL WAR

One song was embraced by both sides of the very bloody conflict: “Home Sweet Home.”

In December 1862, Union troops fought Confederate troops along the Rappahannock River in Virginia at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Levy’s narrative of the fighting is brief but detailed; she focuses her attention on the young combatants who faced harsh winter conditions in camp and who wrote letters home and sang spirited war songs to cheer their efforts. On both sides, their days were filled with music: music for waking up, music for eating, and music for cleaning up. “Dixie,” sung by the South, was answered by “Yankee Doodle,” sung by the North. But Christmas was coming, and one song, which originated in an opera, was soon voiced by both sides: “Home Sweet Home.” The message of the song—longing for home and family—was poignant; still, the fighting soon resumed. Excerpts from letters as well as verses and musical notations from the songs intersperse the pages and reinforce the humanity that could be present on the battlefield. The softly textured illustrations in blue and orange provide views of the fighting, the soldiers, and the encampments, Ford’s lines giving everything a homespun feel.

A moving tale of ordinary soldiers in a great conflict who find solace in music. (notes on the war, the battle, the song, Civil War timeline, bibliography, quotation sources) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2598-6

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A delicious confection and much more: it shows that the human heart is delicate, that it matters, and that it must be...

CIRCUS MIRANDUS

One strange afternoon, 10-year-old Micah Tuttle finds out that magic is real.

Micah always thought Grandpa Ephraim’s wild stories of the centuries-old Circus Mirandus were spun solely for his amusement. But when his dying grandfather writes a letter to the “Lightbender,” hoping to call in the miracle the magician had promised him as a boy, Micah learns the stories were true, and the appearance of Ms. Chintzy, the circus’ cantankerous parrot messenger, clinches the deal. Happily, Micah finds a loyal if somewhat challenging friend to help him track down the elusive light-bending magician: the magic-leery, science-minded Jenny Mendoza. Their budding rapport is nuanced and complex, a refreshing illustration of how absolute like-mindedness is not a prerequisite for friendship. On one level, the book is a fantastical circus romp, with fortunetelling vultures and “a wallaby that could burp the Greek alphabet.” On another, it’s both serious and thick with longing: Micah’s ache for the companionship of his once-vital guardian-grandfather; Grandpa Ephraim’s boyhood yearning for his absent father, as fleshed out in flashbacks; the circus founders’ desire to keep enchantment alive in a world where “faith is such a fragile thing.”

A delicious confection and much more: it shows that the human heart is delicate, that it matters, and that it must be handled with care. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-42843-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A satisfying, winning read.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

BOOKED

Nick Hall is a bright eighth-grader who would rather do anything other than pay attention in class.

Instead he daydreams about soccer, a girl he likes, and an upcoming soccer tournament. His linguistics-professor father carefully watches his educational progress, requiring extra reading and word study, much to Nick’s chagrin and protest. Fortunately, his best friend, Coby, shares his passion for soccer—and, sadly, the unwanted attention of twin bullies in their school. Nick senses something is going on with his parents, but their announcement that they are separating is an unexpected blow: “it’s like a bombshell / drops / right in the center / of your heart / and it splatters / all across your life.” The stress leads to counseling, and his life is further complicated by injury and emergency surgery. His soccer dream derailed, Nick turns to the books he has avoided and finds more than he expected. Alexander’s highly anticipated follow-up to Newbery-winning The Crossover is a reflective narrative, with little of the first book’s explosive energy. What the mostly free-verse novel does have is a likable protagonist, great wordplay, solid teen and adult secondary characters, and a clear picture of the challenges young people face when self-identity clashes with parental expectations. The soccer scenes are vivid and will make readers wish for more, but the depiction of Nick as he unlocks his inner reader is smooth and believable.

A satisfying, winning read. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-57098-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

more