Still, readers will enjoy this trip through time in a notable new transracial-adoption narrative.

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THE LENGTH OF A STRING

Twelve-year-old Imani, a black girl adopted into a white Jewish family, struggles to negotiate her understanding of identity and place while also untangling the skein of her great-grandma’s legacy.

Imani’s journey to find her origins leads her to seek resolution and guidance in Great-Grandma Anna’s diary, which details her flight from Luxembourg to escape Nazi occupation. Along the way, Imani faces awkward, heart-wrenching confrontations with a mother not ready to answer questions about her adoption and about the challenges of being 12, almost 13, while on the outside of insider knowledge about both her birth and adoptive families. Cybils Award winner Weissman (Nerd Camp, 2011) creates a narrative strengthened by her smooth temporal transitions between 1940 and 2014 and her fresh descriptions of life in New York during the early 1940s, including the experiences of Jews in America during the Holocaust. However, Weissman’s too-brief inclusion of African-American traditions and the few pointed situations in which Imani is quizzed or fetishized don’t give readers the opportunity to explore Imani’s thoughts about being a black girl in majority-white spaces. Imani’s preoccupation is with finding her biological parentage, a journey connected to but not the same as examining her racial identity; this gives references to her racial identity a superficial feel.

Still, readers will enjoy this trip through time in a notable new transracial-adoption narrative. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2947-1

Page Count: 386

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

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

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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  • 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

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Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner

THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON

An elderly witch, a magical girl, a brave carpenter, a wise monster, a tiny dragon, paper birds, and a madwoman converge to thwart a magician who feeds on sorrow.

Every year Elders of the Protectorate leave a baby in the forest, warning everyone an evil Witch demands this sacrifice. In reality, every year, a kind witch named Xan rescues the babies and find families for them. One year Xan saves a baby girl with a crescent birthmark who accidentally feeds on moonlight and becomes “enmagicked.” Magic babies can be tricky, so Xan adopts little Luna herself and lovingly raises her, with help from an ancient swamp monster and a chatty, wee dragon. Luna’s magical powers emerge as her 13th birthday approaches. Meanwhile, Luna’s deranged real mother enters the forest to find her daughter. Simultaneously, a young carpenter from the Protectorate enters the forest to kill the Witch and end the sacrifices. Xan also enters the forest to rescue the next sacrificed child, and Luna, the monster, and the dragon enter the forest to protect Xan. In the dramatic denouement, a volcano erupts, the real villain attempts to destroy all, and love prevails. Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces. Luna has black eyes, curly, black hair, and “amber” skin.

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-567-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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