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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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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