An important, well-written account of survival against overwhelming odds.

PETER'S WAR

A BOY'S TRUE STORY OF SURVIVAL IN WORLD WAR II EUROPE

Sympathetic and brave French citizens help a Jewish boy survive World War II.

Born in Germany to comfortable and nonobservant Jewish parents, Peter Feigl has a good life. When Hitler comes to power, however, they move to Czechoslovakia, Austria, Belgium, and finally France in search of safety. When, ultimately, Peter’s parents are deported to Auschwitz, Peter finds shelter with French families on La Montagne Protestante, among a community of Huguenots. What follows is a harrowing time of hiding, tricking German soldiers, and finally being spirited to safety in Switzerland. Peter kept two diaries in which he recorded his feelings and activities, excerpts from which appear throughout. In an epilogue and notes, the authors provide more detailed and very accessible background information on French Resistance activities, the diaries, and the Holocaust as it affected one Jewish child who was in fact baptized. The account of their interviews with Peter should fascinate readers and perhaps encourage them to undertake similar projects. Graphite-and-watercolor illustrations complement the inclusion of many black-and-white photographs. This is a valuable addition to the shelves of Holocaust literature, highlighting both the single-minded determination of the Germans and the heroic efforts of one French community. Peter, who is multilingual, worked with the French Resistance and eventually moved to America, where he frequently speaks to groups about his wartime experiences.

An important, well-written account of survival against overwhelming odds. (map, bibliography, recommended resources) (Biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2416-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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IF YOU LIVED DURING THE PLIMOTH THANKSGIVING

A measured corrective to pervasive myths about what is often referred to as the “first Thanksgiving.”

Contextualizing them within a Native perspective, Newell (Passamaquoddy) touches on the all-too-familiar elements of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and its origins and the history of English colonization in the territory now known as New England. In addition to the voyage and landfall of the Mayflower, readers learn about the Doctrine of Discovery that arrogated the lands of non-Christian peoples to European settlers; earlier encounters between the Indigenous peoples of the region and Europeans; and the Great Dying of 1616-1619, which emptied the village of Patuxet by 1620. Short, two- to six-page chapters alternate between the story of the English settlers and exploring the complex political makeup of the region and the culture, agriculture, and technology of the Wampanoag—all before covering the evolution of the holiday. Refreshingly, the lens Newell offers is a Native one, describing how the Wampanoag and other Native peoples received the English rather than the other way around. Key words ranging from estuary to discover are printed in boldface in the narrative and defined in a closing glossary. Nelson (a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa) contributes soft line-and-color illustrations of the proceedings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Essential. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-72637-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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