THE MIDNIGHT RIDE OF PAUL REVERE

An extraordinarily beautiful piece of bookmaking attempts to breathe new life into one of American literature’s hoariest classics. Illustrator Bing, fresh from his Caldecott Honor triumph with Casey at the Bat (2000), here employs a combination of techniques to depict the events of the “eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five.” Delicate pen, ink, and brush backgrounds reminiscent of early engravings were glazed with watercolors “in the traditional method,” resulting in an absolutely heart-stopping blue that dominates the nighttime scenes with just tiny hints of reds and yellows to stand in contrast. Occasional scanned-in additions, such as watches, coins, or playing cards, are superimposed on some illustrations; these are presumably added to enhance atmosphere but are somewhat distracting. The illustrations occupy most of the double-page spreads, with the text appearing at the sides in boxes that simulate yellowed (and in one case, singed) paper. Extensive historical notes, bibliography, acknowledgments, and a fascinating note on the preparation follow the poem; the whole is flanked by maps of the planned British raid and the famous ride. The endpapers are decorated with facsimile broadsides and supplemented by two foldout documents: a recreation of Paul Revere’s deposition on the events, and a “fanciful” recreation of British General Gage’s orders to his lieutenant. It is unquestionably a glorious effort on the part of the artist, designer, and publisher. The poem itself can be stuffily old-fashioned in syntax and occasionally its rhyme scheme mires down, but the illustrations, which capture both the movements of the British and the desperate stealth of Revere and his friend, help to carry the reader along. Less a picture book than an illustrated poem, this offering may well serve to excite new audiences in a work to which everyone knows the opening lines—but nothing else. (Picture book/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-929766-13-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

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Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people.

GROUND ZERO

Parallel storylines take readers through the lives of two young people on Sept. 11 in 2001 and 2019.

In the contemporary timeline, Reshmina is an Afghan girl living in foothills near the Pakistan border that are a battleground between the Taliban and U.S. armed forces. She is keen to improve her English while her twin brother, Pasoon, is inspired by the Taliban and wants to avenge their older sister, killed by an American bomb on her wedding day. Reshmina helps a wounded American soldier, making her village a Taliban target. In 2001, Brandon Chavez is spending the day with his father, who works at the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World restaurant. Brandon is heading to the underground mall when a plane piloted by al-Qaida hits the tower, and his father is among those killed. The two storylines develop in parallel through alternating chapters. Gratz’s deeply moving writing paints vivid images of the loss and fear of those who lived through the trauma of 9/11. However, this nuance doesn’t extend to the Afghan characters; Reshmina and Pasoon feel one-dimensional. Descriptions of the Taliban’s Afghan victims and Reshmina's gentle father notwithstanding, references to all young men eventually joining the Taliban and Pasoon's zeal for their cause counteract this messaging. Explanations for the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan in the author’s note and in characters’ conversations too simplistically present the U.S. presence.

Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-24575-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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