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

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An outstanding new edition of this popular modern classic (Newbery Award, 1961), with an introduction by Zena Sutherland and...

ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS

Coming soon!!

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1990

ISBN: 0-395-53680-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people.

GROUND ZERO

Parallel storylines take readers through the lives of two young people on Sept. 11 in 2001 and 2019.

In the contemporary timeline, Reshmina is an Afghan girl living in foothills near the Pakistan border that are a battleground between the Taliban and U.S. armed forces. She is keen to improve her English while her twin brother, Pasoon, is inspired by the Taliban and wants to avenge their older sister, killed by an American bomb on her wedding day. Reshmina helps a wounded American soldier, making her village a Taliban target. In 2001, Brandon Chavez is spending the day with his father, who works at the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World restaurant. Brandon is heading to the underground mall when a plane piloted by al-Qaida hits the tower, and his father is among those killed. The two storylines develop in parallel through alternating chapters. Gratz’s deeply moving writing paints vivid images of the loss and fear of those who lived through the trauma of 9/11. However, this nuance doesn’t extend to the Afghan characters; Reshmina and Pasoon feel one-dimensional. Descriptions of the Taliban’s Afghan victims and Reshmina's gentle father notwithstanding, references to all young men eventually joining the Taliban and Pasoon's zeal for their cause counteract this messaging. Explanations for the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan in the author’s note and in characters’ conversations too simplistically present the U.S. presence.

Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-24575-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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