A fun adventure that introduces young children to American history.



A missing tennis ball leads to a lesson in American history for golden retriever Dubs in this children’s book by Morris, McGann and Liotta.

When Dubs discovers that his prized tennis ball has rolled away, he sets off on a mission to find it. The journey takes him throughout Washington, D.C., from the Lincoln Memorial to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and to just about every point-of-interest in between. At each stop, before resuming the search for his tennis ball, Dubs reflects on the meaning or purpose of the site and how it personally affects him. While gazing up at the columns of the U.S. Supreme Court building, Dubs considers how “[i]f another dog took away my ball / the court would get it / back for me after all.” At the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Dubs thinks, “If people are equal, can it possibly be / That dogs are too,…especially me?” By having Dubs not just recite what each site is and its role in American history but also briefly explain how the buildings or the actions of the people being memorialized personally affect him, the authors make it easier for children to relate to the imposing federal buildings and monuments. The rhyming scheme, though at times a bit clunky (“Dubs stopped by to visit the White House / To see the president and his lovely spouse”) keep the tone light, as does the missing tennis ball. Young readers will have fun searching for the bright yellow ball—always just out of Dubs’ sight—in each of the illustrations. The illustrations, by Liotta, both capture the playful side of Dubs and, at times, the solemnity of the monuments he visits. Each drawn from a different angle, they invite readers in for a closer look. At the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, for example, Dubs hides beneath the folds of FDR’s cape, growling at Fala, the president’s Scottish terrier, who is also memorialized. At the World War II memorial, with his back to us, Dubs sits peacefully, surrounded by green memorial wreaths. The illustrations, coupled with the breadth of sites that Dubs visits, (15 in all), will keep readers interested while they learn about history and help Dubs find his tennis ball.

A fun adventure that introduces young children to American history.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2011

ISBN: 978-1439280263

Page Count: 44

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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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...


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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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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