A tense adventure about interracial adoption that gets to the heart of what’s most important: love.

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MARTHA AND THE SLAVE CATCHERS

The life of a Connecticut girl is turned upside down by the Fugitive Slave Act.

In her debut for young readers, Alonso introduces readers to a bandaged and badly bruised 14-year-old Martha Bartlett as she reads a letter from her white abolitionist father, an Underground Railroad “station keeper,” about her ailing mother, a white Quaker who helps him. Readers learn how Martha received her injuries in a flashback that begins with the arrival of her adopted brother, Jake, the infant free son of a runaway, possibly mixed-race teenager named Mariah and her slave owner, when Martha was 6. Jake’s origin and what readers will likely see as autism challenge his family’s love and communal concern as they all create a web of lies and other safeguards to protect him. When Martha unintentionally leaves Jake, now 7, alone, slave catchers kidnap the boy and take him back to Maryland. Martha—spurred by her own guilt, the shocking revelation about her own beginnings, and the attendant casual racism regarding her birth that romantically devastates her—decides to cross the Mason-Dixon Line to bring Jake home. Alonso pens an informative, easy-to-follow adventure story that nevertheless tackles the persistent issues arising from antebellum America, including race and skin color, situational ethics and their devastating consequences, and allyship and using privilege for justice.

A tense adventure about interracial adoption that gets to the heart of what’s most important: love. (author’s note, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60980-800-6

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Chilling, difficult, and definitely not for readers without a solid understanding of the Holocaust despite the relatively...

THE BOY AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN

A young boy grows up in Adolf Hitler’s mountain home in Austria.

Seven-year-old Pierrot Fischer and his frail French mother live in Paris. His German father, a bitter ex-soldier, returned to Germany and died there. Pierrot’s best friend is Anshel Bronstein, a deaf Jewish boy. After his mother dies, he lives in an orphanage, until his aunt Beatrix sends for him to join her at the Berghof mountain retreat in Austria, where she is housekeeper for Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. It is here that he becomes ever more enthralled with Hitler and grows up, proudly wearing the uniform of the Hitler Youth, treating others with great disdain, basking in his self-importance, and then committing a terrible act of betrayal against his aunt. He witnesses vicious acts against Jews, and he hears firsthand of plans for extermination camps. Yet at war’s end he maintains that he was only a child and didn’t really understand. An epilogue has him returning to Paris, where he finds Anshel and begins a kind of catharsis. Boyne includes real Nazi leaders and historical details in his relentless depiction of Pierrot’s inevitable corruption and self-delusion. As with The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2006), readers both need to know what Pierrot disingenuously doesn’t and are expected to accept his extreme naiveté, his total lack of awareness and comprehension in spite of what is right in front of him.

Chilling, difficult, and definitely not for readers without a solid understanding of the Holocaust despite the relatively simple reading level. (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-030-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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A German boy makes an extraordinary and life-affirming choice in this compelling Holocaust tale.

CRUSHING THE RED FLOWERS

Two boys forge a brief and dangerous alliance in 1938 Germany.

Friedrich Weber is a 12-year-old member of the Jungvolk in Hannover. Membership is mandatory if quietly reluctant on his part. Emil Rosen is a 12-year-old Jewish boy in Hannover. Restrictions on Jewish life are coming into force, but Emil is still required to practice the piano and study for his bar mitzvah. The two cross paths at a remote spot on the Leine River, Emil finding peace there and Friedrich remembering that it was his papa who had shared this “special place, their secret.” But in the weeks leading up to Kristallnacht, each is caught up in the all-consuming anti-Semitism of their country as Jews are declared “non-German.” Friedrich becomes one of those throwing rocks at Jewish businesses as his parents embrace Hitler in the hope it will “keep [them] safe.” Emil’s family is torn between immigration to Paraguay and bewilderment; his vati fought for Germany in the Great War. The author has based her story on family history. She writes in alternating chapters that focus on each boy’s struggle to make sense of ominous events during increasingly oppressive times. Family loyalty, government opposition, bullying, and facing total upheaval in one’s life are dealt with memorably in this multilayered tale. The titular flowers, red poppies, have special meaning to each family.

A German boy makes an extraordinary and life-affirming choice in this compelling Holocaust tale. (author’s note, selected resources) (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63246-094-3

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Ig Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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