Gripping and intense.

READ REVIEW

THE HIDING GAME

In 1940 Aube and her parents, a French poet and a painter, were on the run from the Nazis in occupied France, until they were rescued and given temporary refuge in the Villa Air-Bel in Vichy France.

The Nazis were rounding up and deporting Jews, intellectuals, journalists, writers, artists, and anyone suspected of anti-Nazi activities. Varian Fry, an American journalist, and his French assistant, Danny Bénédite, had established a clandestine organization that arranged escapes. In Villa Air-Bel, Aube’s family and the likes of Max Ernst, Victor Serge, and Marc Chagall were kept safe while arrangements were made to smuggle them out of France. The childlike third-person narration describes the various subterfuges: a hidden radio, smuggling outgoing messages in toothpaste tubes, even a concealed cow—all secrets that must be kept to ensure their safety and the success of the mission. Young Aube must also find her own hiding place and practice using it. But there is also a great deal of laughter, games, and music to keep up their spirits and fight against fear. Strauss, Bénédite’s great-great-niece, recounts the events from Aube’s innocent, hopeful point of view, employing a matter-of-fact tone and placing the historical events in a context that young readers might grasp. Leonhard’s softly drawn, purple-hued illustrations perfectly capture Aube’s emotions. Endnotes verify the events with facts, photos, and biographical information.

Gripping and intense. (Picture book. 7-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4556-2265-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Pelican

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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MY HAVANA

MEMORIES OF A CUBAN BOYHOOD

Mirroring the career he eventually entered, architect Fernandez builds up, like one of Havana’s ornate structures, memories of childhood in his pre- and post-Castro hometown. A gifted illustrator, he drew constantly, easily rendering even minute architectural details. Before emigrating to New York City, young “Dino” and his family moved first to Madrid to assist relatives. Discovering a dictatorship that wasn’t much different from the one they’d left in Cuba, the family returned home and then finally moved to the United States. Havana was never far from his mind, and art brought solace. So homesick was Dino in Manhattan that he actually “built” a cardboard replica of Havana that captured the colors and warmth he remembered. This fictionalized memoir is for the contemplative reader and anyone who has felt out of place or yearned for a beloved home; it could serve as a catalyst for creative expression. Wells has chosen anecdotes wisely, and Ferguson’s illustrations are atmospheric, capturing Dino’s childlike enthusiasm and longing. An author’s note reveals how Wells came to know of and be inspired by Fernandez’s story. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4305-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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