KINGS MOUNTAIN

The fighting during the American Revolutionary War set neighbor against neighbor and family against family and it was in the south that those feelings were especially intense. The battle of Kings Mountain, fought in South Carolina in October of 1780, was a solid British defeat and pivotal to the outcome of the conflict. This story by the veteran writer of historical fiction follows young Frank Livingstone, who would rather sketch than fight and kill. He believes that he can never measure up to the memory of his older brother, who died in a childhood accident. When Frank and his sister travel from their mountain home to their grandmother’s tavern in Camden, they witness first-hand the dangers of life under the British military occupation. Once there, his ability to sketch enemy positions allows him to participate in the patriot cause without having to fire his prized Dickert rifle. An author’s note, background historical information, and a chronology of events help the reader understand the events. However, the actual battle comes so late in the story that it seems anticlimactic, and the real-life heroes and villains of the time are never fully fleshed out. As a coming-of-age story of a boy, there are merits. As historical fiction, there are too many lessons grafted onto the narrative. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-688-17813-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2002

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

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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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An outstanding new edition of this popular modern classic (Newbery Award, 1961), with an introduction by Zena Sutherland and...

ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS

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Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1990

ISBN: 0-395-53680-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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