The view is a bit rose-tinted, but a pleasant diversion nonetheless.

Elizabeth's War

A slim but charming debut tale about life on the homefront during World War I, as seen through the eyes of an 11-year-old Midwestern farm girl.

In the spring of 1917, two weeks after America entered the war, young Elizabeth MacNeil’s life is about to become a lot more challenging. The youngest of four children, “Libby” has been coddled and protected both by her parents and by her siblings. Through the first-person narrative, readers share Libby’s fears and lack of confidence as she transforms from being a young girl fantasizing about new dresses to assuming responsibilities that make her a strong, pivotal member of her family. One by one, the people upon whom she has depended disappear or falter. Her father and oldest brother go off to war, her sister Pearl withdraws into depression, and her mother is increasingly exhausted by an unanticipated pregnancy. Gradually, Libby masters the skills she has mostly avoided: cooking, knitting (for the troops), and taking care of Sarah and brother Paul when they contract chicken pox. But Finn captures more than Elizabeth’s story. The novel also recalls the experiences of living with rationings, the introduction of light airplanes to the war machine, and the controversy over the suffragette movement. Libby is a delightful protagonist, alternating between wishing she could be of more help and resenting the intrusion upon her formerly rather carefree life. She’s a normal 11-year-old who rises to some extraordinary demands. The plot is compressed into a short period of only nine or 10 months, making the confluence of events feel a bit unrealistic. Still, the war functions primarily as a backdrop, and Finn nicely evokes the sentiment of how it was being waged back home. Literate and fluid writing speeds readers through to a tense conclusion.

The view is a bit rose-tinted, but a pleasant diversion nonetheless.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9962582-1-0

Page Count: 118

Publisher: Book Baby

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

REFUGEE

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

Did you like this book?

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

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

Did you like this book?

more