In this somber companion to The Impossible Journey (2003) and Angel on the Square (2001), Whelan brings the horrific, 880-day Siege of Leningrad to life for young readers. From the moment 14-year-old Georgi Ivanova hears Germany has declared war on Russia, he wants nothing more than to enlist in the Russian army. Because he’s too young, he serves his country in every other way he can, including helping starving Russians by transporting food across frozen lakes in the dead of winter. Whelan describes the horrors of war relentlessly, as pages upon pages of atrocities unfold. Interspersed good news and small wartime miracles like a butterfly and a blooming flower, while a welcome respite, sometimes feel abrupt. Readers will cheer the selfless war efforts of Georgi and his family and their commitment to the importance of art in society. Georgi’s sister’s work to protect the treasures of the Hermitage from wartime destruction feels as urgent as Shostakovich’s heroic composition of the Leningrad Symphony. All in all, a vivid portrait of a country and a family under siege, and a testimony to human resilience. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-054112-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2004


From the Neighborhood series , Vol. 3

Big brother Duane is off in boot camp, and Justin is left trying to hold the parental units together. Fat, acne-ridden, and missing his best friend Ben, who’s in the throes of his first boy-girl relationship with Cass, Justin’s world is dreary. It gets worse when he realizes that all of his mother’s suspicions about his father are probably true, and that Dad may not return from his latest business trip. Surprisingly ultra-cool Jemmie, who is also missing her best friend, Cass, actually recognizes his existence and her grandmother invites Justin to use their piano in the afternoons when Jemmie’s at cross-country practice. The “big nothing” place, where Justin retreats in time of trouble, is a rhythmic world and soon begins to include melody and provide Justin with a place to express himself. Practice and discipline accompany this gradual exploration of his talent. The impending war in Iraq gives this story a definite place in time, and its distinct characters make it satisfying and surprisingly realistic. Misfit finds fit. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-56145-326-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2004



Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82979-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1999