An ultimately heartwarming, if somewhat stilted, new interpretation of a 95-year-old German kids’ book.

Nesthäkchen in the Childrens Sanitorium

A translation of a beloved German children’s classic.

Translator Lehrer here presents a new English-language version of Ury’s 1921 novel, Nesthäkchen im Kinderheim, with helpful new annotations to provide context and catch resonances that might elude modern readers. This is the fourth book in a long series chronicling the adventures of Annemarie Braun, “a slim, golden blond, quintessential German girl” who’s the youngest child (or nesthäkchen) of a Berlin doctor at the turn of the 20th century. The series follows Annemarie from childhood to old age, and in this volume, she’s 10 years old when she’s stricken with scarlet fever and sent to a children’s sanitorium, called Wittdun, by the North Sea. The book dramatizes her voyage to Wittdun, her introduction to her new home, and how she gradually came to know the staff and children there. Annemarie is like a Teutonic Shirley Temple, always smiling, always slightly mischievous, and always bringing out the best in the people around her. Despite Lehrer’s best efforts, though, she tends to be a fairly stilted and dull heroine. However, the context of the surrounding social setting is fascinating—a snapshot of a vanished world presented with charming, black-and-white period illustrations. Ury’s narrative tone is amusingly sardonic at times—affectionate but assessing, as it aims to appeal to both children and their parents. Her portraits of the various adults that Annemarie encounters are refreshingly textured; they’re not the one-dimensional authority figures that were more typical of children’s books of the time. The story also handles Annemarie’s shifting emotions, from feeling forlorn to gradually coming to like many people at Wittdun, in a lively, often charming way. It’s easy to see why this series might have been so popular with German families nearly a century ago.

An ultimately heartwarming, if somewhat stilted, new interpretation of a 95-year-old German kids’ book.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-5004-2458-9

Page Count: 210

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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A rush of emotion and suspense.

THE FIRST TO DIE AT THE END

Crowds gather across the United States for the launch of Death-Cast, a company that promises to change the world by predicting the deaths of everyone who subscribes in this prequel to They Both Die at the End (2017).

Orion Pagan, an aspiring author with a heart condition, hopes his phone won’t ring at midnight, but he knows Death-Cast’s call is coming soon. Unlike Orion, Valentino Prince, a model on the verge of his national debut, has no reason to anticipate Death-Cast’s call and isn’t sure if he believes the company’s claims. By coincidence or fate, their lives collide at a party in Times Square, and a single, historic phone call alters the courses of their futures. This heart-pounding story follows the final day of the first Decker, or person who is going to die, and the national chaos of Death-Cast’s premiere. Silvera crafts a web of intricately interconnected character perspectives and conflicts around Orion and Valentino. Apart from Valentino and his twin sister, who are presumed White, most of the characters are Latine, including White-passing Orion, whose family is Puerto Rican. The story confronts heavy topics like grief, abuse, and religious faith with complexity and care. Despite the presumed inevitability of a fatal end to the central romance between Orion and Valentino, Silvera subverts the trope of punishing gay characters with violent tragedy. Familiarity with the original book provides additional context and depth but isn’t essential to understanding the plot.

A rush of emotion and suspense. (Speculative fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-324080-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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