Important issues float through clouds of self-pity.

READ REVIEW

FLY BACK, AGNES

At odds with her changing self and family, one summer Agnes Moon pretends to be someone different—and meets others with secrets.

Twelve-year-old Vermonter Agnes, who has her white mother’s red hair and freckles and her biracial (white/Korean) dad’s dark eyes and light-brown skin, really hates her new curves and the idea of “becoming a woman.” She also feels left out: Her divorced parents, her older sister, and her best friend all seem to have moved on to other relationships. A first small lie allows her to spend the summer with her father. But he’s busy; she has plenty of time to explore. The lies multiply as she introduces herself as Chloe from Kansas, first to Stella and her grandmother at the general store and then to Fin, the attractive boy visiting nearby Fly Back Farm, and Harriet Hooper, the farm’s owner. As they gradually reveal some of their secrets, Agnes becomes increasingly uncomfortable in her own deceit but holds out until she collapses spectacularly and publicly. Having been exposed to the decisions made by and for teen mothers and intersex babies, as well as to someone who has been seriously depressed, she’s more willing to face her own personal and family concerns. While there’s no doubt many readers will find Agnes’ discontent familiar, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that these secondary characters and their concerns exist primarily for Agnes’ enlightenment. Except for Agnes and her dad, characters seem to be default white.

Important issues float through clouds of self-pity. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7820-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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?

Moving and poetic.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more