GROWING SEASONS

Born on an Illinois farm in 1906, Splear describes a hard-working but satisfying life as one of four sisters in a tenant farming family. Everyone has clearly defined work to do. Mother gardens, cooks, does the wash, cans food for the winter, and sells her excess butter and cream. The girls help mother in the kitchen and garden, and they take care of the cows when school is out. They help dress and prepare chickens for market, keep the fuel box full, and carry water into the house from the well. Father plows and harvests the crops, cares for the animals, and slaughters them for market. This farm family, living before the invention of labor-saving devices, is a virtuous unit, harmoniously working together, celebrating holidays, and enjoying the fruit of their labors. Although they move from place to place, crops grow, and animals and humans thrive. The family always has food to eat and enough money to buy a $500 car. Stark’s casein paintings are carefully detailed, taking pains to show the readers the unfamiliar household equipment of the time. The washtub, clothes wringer, clothesline, horse-drawn plow, Model T car, and the stove that fills the house with warmth—all recreate what life was like before the mechanized farm. Bath night in the kitchen, showing a girl squeezed into a tin tub bending over as her mother ladles water onto her head, is especially evocative of a time gone by. An idyllic picture of a wholesome, white, midwestern farm family. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-399-23460-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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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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A richly detailed account of a little-known event in World War II.

LIFEBOAT 12

An escape from war-torn Britain becomes a struggle for survival when a ship is torpedoed off the coast of England.

In June 1940, Great Britain formed the Children’s Overseas Reception Board to transfer Britain’s children away from the encroaching war to safe harbors around the world. Over 200,000 children between the ages of 5 and 15 applied for just 20,000 spots. Thirteen-year-old Kenneth Sparks is chosen to travel on the City of Benares, a luxury ocean liner, to Canada, where he will live with his aunt in Edmonton. The children are distracted by rich food, new toys, and soft beds, but the accompanying convoy of war ships is a constant reminder that while the blitzkrieg might be behind them, German torpedoes are a very present threat. Three days into their voyage, the Benares is hit, sending crew and passengers into the lifeboats and the water. Ken, along with a handful of others, all white except 32 Asian sailors of varied ethnicity (called Lascars at the time), must survive with little water, food, or shelter if they are to make it out alive. Told in verse, the story of Lifeboat 12 is lyrical, terrifying, and even at times funny. Hood makes effective use of line breaks and punctuation to wrap readers up in Ken’s tale. Copious research, including interviews with the real Ken Sparks, went into the making of this fictional recasting of a true story of survival. Backmatter offers further information, including the racism experienced by the Lascars.

A richly detailed account of a little-known event in World War II. (Historical verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6883-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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