A sweet story about a friendship with a most inauspicious start.

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IN YOUR SHOES

Once upon a bowling shoe….

Miles Spagoski’s favorite place is his family’s bowling alley. A worrier who is awkward with girls, Miles wishes life were more like bowling, where there is “always a chance for a do-over.” Maybe if he wears his lucky bowling shoes someone will think he’s interesting enough to go to the upcoming dance with. Meanwhile, Amy Silverman is lonely and unhappy about moving to her uncle’s funeral home; her bedroom smells moldy, and the environment triggers memories of her mom’s funeral. A writer, Amy projects her life and dreams onto her characters in hopes of rewriting her story with a happy ending. The two kids meet when one of Miles’ lucky bowling shoes lands on Amy’s head. Miles has no idea how lucky his shoe is, because things don’t always turn out the way we expect. Miles’ and Amy’s perspectives alternate in the intrusive third-person narration, which includes earnest and gently humorous insights into themes of friendship, loss, and perseverance set in a contrasting typeface. Paratext includes glossaries of bowling and writing terms. Well-rounded supporting characters include Miles’ best friend, Randall, a stylish boy with severe asthma, and their friend Tate, a blue-haired girl who weight lifts competitively. Miles is Jewish, and Amy’s leg-length discrepancy requires her to wear a heel lift. Excepting a minor character with a Spanish surname, assume the white default.

A sweet story about a friendship with a most inauspicious start. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1373-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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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...

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

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