BURYING THE SUN

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2004

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HOMELESS BIRD

1893

Pub Date: March 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-028454-4

Page Count: 250

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1999

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RAMONA'S WORLD

Ramona returns (Ramona Forever, 1988, etc.), and she’s as feisty as ever, now nine-going-on-ten (or “zeroteen,” as she calls it). Her older sister Beezus is in high school, baby-sitting, getting her ears pierced, and going to her first dance, and now they have a younger baby sister, Roberta. Cleary picks up on all the details of fourth grade, from comparing hand calluses to the distribution of little plastic combs by the school photographer. This year Ramona is trying to improve her spelling, and Cleary is especially deft at limning the emotional nuances as Ramona fails and succeeds, goes from sad to happy, and from hurt to proud. The grand finale is Ramona’s birthday party in the park, complete with a cake frosted in whipped cream. Despite a brief mention of nose piercing, Cleary’s writing still reflects a secure middle-class family and untroubled school life, untouched by the classroom violence or the broken families of the 1990s. While her book doesn’t match what’s in the newspapers, it’s a timeless, serene alternative for children, especially those with less than happy realities. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16816-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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