The people of the small towns and farms in La Montagne Protestante region of Southern France established homes and schools to rescue children fleeing almost certain transport to Nazi concentration camps. They came from all over Europe, and most were alone. With careful research and interviews, the authors provide background information of several who survived, to create narratives about their experiences before fleeing to Le Chambon and life there. Photographs and sketches accompany their tales, told in diary-like entries: age, date, place and personal stories in short, fast informative chapters. This story is inspiring—not because of the writing style, which is neutral, clear and pedestrian, but because the authors have brought the inspiring deeds of the Chambonese to life. Why did they do it? “Because we could not NOT do it,” said a woman interviewed about the acts of ordinary people who became quiet heroes. An absolute must. (Maps, index, bibliography, photographs, notes, glossary, pronunciation guide, source notes) (Nonfiction. 6-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1928-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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In the summer and fall of 1845, a plant fungus hit Ireland. In the following seven years, one million people died and another one-and-a-half million people fled the country. It was one of the terrible disasters of the 19th century, the magnitude of which will surprise most readers. This first-person account of the time is derived from oral-history projects such as that conducted in the 1940s by the Irish Folklore Commission, which collected stories from children and grandchildren of survivors. Unlike the photographic record of American slavery and the Holocaust, no known photographs of the Great Hunger exist. Lyons combines oral history with paintings from the period and sketches made by newspapermen who traveled the country in 1847. Young readers may be confused by the inclusion of photographs when the author states in the first section that no photographs of the period exist; however, the photographs she uses date from the end of the 19th century, when the fungus struck again. This attractive volume seems insubstantial on its own but will make a good match with Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s recent Black Potatoes (p. 1419), which tells the story of the famine in greater depth. Lyons emphasizes that hunger is still a worldwide problem. In 1995, six million children under the age of five died from lack of nutritious food. As Lyons says, “The Irish famine is worth remembering when hunger organizations ask us to help them feed the children first.” This will be a useful volume for library collections on Ireland, immigration, cities, hunger, and the 19th century. (Web sites, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-84226-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2001

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Well-intentioned, well-researched, but awkwardly written considering the caliber of the scholar and his expected scholarship.



From the Scholastic Focus series

“In your hands you are holding my book…my very first venture in writing for young readers,” Gates writes in a preface.

And readers can tell…though probably not in the way Gates and co-author Bolden may have aimed for. The book opens with a gripping scene of formerly enslaved African-Americans celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation. It proceeds to engagingly unfold the facts that led to Reconstruction and its reaction, Jim Crow, until it disrupts the flow with oddly placed facts about Gates’ family’s involvement in the war, name-dropping of other historians, and the occasional conspicuous exclamation (“Land! That’s what his people most hungered for”). Flourishes such as that last sit uneasily with the extensive quotations from secondary sources for adults, as if Gates and Bolden are not sure whether their conceptual audience is young readers or adults, an uncertainty established as early as Gates’ preface. They also too-frequently relegate the vital roles of black women, such as Harriet Tubman, to sidebars or scatter their facts throughout the book, implicitly framing the era as a struggle between African-American men and white men. In the end, this acts as a reminder to readers that, although a person may have a Ph.D. and have written successfully in some genres and media, that does not mean they can write in every one, even with the help of a veteran in the field.

Well-intentioned, well-researched, but awkwardly written considering the caliber of the scholar and his expected scholarship. (selected sources, endnotes, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-26204-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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