An absorbing story of true friends in troubled times.

READ REVIEW

TRU & NELLE

A CHRISTMAS TALE

In the sequel to Tru & Nelle (2016), Christmas in tiny Monroeville, Alabama, is hardly jolly.

Drawing on real-life characters, places, and events to create a fictional world for Nelle Harper Lee and Truman Capote (Scout and Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird), Neri covers three different Christmases, a narrative arc allowing him to follow the two white children to adulthood. In the first scene, 10 days before Christmas in 1935, 11-year-old Truman returns home for a custody hearing that sends him right back to New York City with his parents. Two years later, he shows up again—having escaped from a military academy—and renews his friendship with Nelle, kisses her for the first time (though he reveals his first kiss was with a boy), antagonizes the son of the ex–Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, and witnesses racism firsthand when Nelle’s father, Amasa Coleman Lee, loses an unfair trial of black defendants unjustly accused. In the brief final section 19 years later, Truman is now a famous writer, and Nelle receives a financial gift that allows her time to write and, in time, also becomes a famous writer. Readers don’t need to know To Kill a Mockingbird to find themselves immersed in the goings-on in Monroeville.

An absorbing story of true friends in troubled times. (author’s note, acknowledgments, recipe) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-328-68598-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing.

SUNNY ROLLS THE DICE

From the Sunny series , Vol. 3

Sunny, in seventh grade, finds her score on the Groovy Meter taking some wild swings as her friends’ interests move in different directions.

In a motif that haunts her throughout, Sunny succumbs to a teen magazine’s personality quiz and sees her tally seesaw radically. Her BF Deb has suddenly switched focus to boys, clothes, and bands such as the Bee Gees (this is 1977)—dismissing trick-or-treating and wearing galoshes on rainy days as “babyish.” Meanwhile, Sunny takes delight in joining nerdy neighbors Lev, Brian, and Arun in regular sessions of Dungeons and Dragons (as a fighter character, so cool). The storytelling is predominantly visual in this episodic outing, with just occasional snatches of dialogue and pithy labels to fill in details or mark the passage of time; frequent reaction shots deftly capture Sunny’s feelings of being pulled this way and that. Tellingly, in the Holms’ panels (colored by Pien), Sunny’s depicted as significantly smaller than Deb, visually underscoring her developmental awkwardness. Deb’s comment that “we’re too old to be playing games like that” leads Sunny to drop out of the D&D circle and even go to the school’s staggeringly dull spring dance. Sunny’s mostly white circle of peers expands and becomes more diverse as she continues to navigate her way through the dark chambers and misty passages of early adolescence. Lev is an Orthodox Jew, Arun is South Asian, and Regina, another female friend, has brown skin.

The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing. (Graphic historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-23314-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

THE CONSPIRACY

From the Plot to Kill Hitler series , Vol. 1

Near the end of World War II, two kids join their parents in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

Max, 12, lives with his parents and his older sister in a Berlin that’s under constant air bombardment. During one such raid, a mortally wounded man stumbles into the white German family’s home and gasps out his last wish: “The Führer must die.” With this nighttime visitation, Max and Gerta discover their parents have been part of a resistance cell, and the siblings want in. They meet a colorful band of upper-class types who seem almost too whimsical to be serious. Despite her charming levity, Prussian aristocrat and cell leader Frau Becker is grimly aware of the stakes. She enlists Max and Gerta as couriers who sneak forged identification papers to Jews in hiding. Max and Gerta are merely (and realistically) cogs in the adults’ plans, but there’s plenty of room for their own heroism. They escape capture, rescue each other when they’re caught out during an air raid, and willingly put themselves repeatedly at risk to catch a spy. The fictional plotters—based on a mix of several real anti-Hitler resistance cells—are portrayed with a genuine humor, giving them the space to feel alive even in such a slim volume.

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35902-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more