THE KEY IS LOST

Although this new Holocaust survivor novel tells much the same story as some of the other books about a family’s trials during WWII, the style is slightly different. It’s told from the point of view of 12-year-old Eva Zilverstijn, and is in the present tense. But it is told about Eva, as though the subject is also the observer. The result is that the narration captures the inner thoughts of the child while remaining somewhat distant. Eva and her sister Lisa, nine years old, were born in Groningen, Holland, the great-great-grandchildren of Polish-Jewish emigrants. Now it’s 1940, the Germans have invaded Holland, and the lives of Jewish residents will never be the same. Eva and Lisa must now think of themselves as Marie-Louise and Marie-Jeanne Dutour, Huguenots. They will spend the next five years in hiding, fleeing from one house to another, never really sure whom to trust. The people who hide them are ordinary citizens who have no special feelings one way or the other about Jews, but will “do whatever it takes to go against those Nazis.” The girls are separated from their parents soon after they begin to hide, and they won’t know what happened to them until the war ends. Living through experiences that would surely destroy them if they did not have a tremendous amount of inner strength, by the end of the war they have proven themselves unusually resourceful as well as brave. On the other hand, they are still children, and find that when they are finally free to go outside, they can’t. Not for a day or two, anyway, since it is still too scary. Outside, and without a star! Two poems included in the book were written by Vos’s mother, and Vos and her sister carried them from one house to another, much as Lisa and Eva do in the story. This is a compelling tale, interestingly told, and will be a useful addition to the growing body of children’s literature about the Holocaust. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-16283-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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The bird’s-eye view into this pivotal moment provides a powerful story, one that adults will applaud—but between the...

MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON

The ugly brutality of the Jim Crow South is recounted in dulcet, poetic tones, creating a harsh and fascinating blend.

Fact and fiction pair in the story of Rose Lee Carter, 13, as she copes with life in a racially divided world. It splits wide open when a 14-year-old boy from Chicago named Emmett Till goes missing. Jackson superbly blends the history into her narrative. The suffocating heat, oppression, and despair African-Americans experienced in 1955 Mississippi resonate. And the author effectively creates a protagonist with plenty of suffering all her own. Practically abandoned by her mother, Rose Lee is reviled in her own home for the darkness of her brown skin. The author ably captures the fear and dread of each day and excels when she shows the peril of blacks trying to assert their right to vote in the South, likely a foreign concept to today’s kids. Where the book fails, however, is in its overuse of descriptors and dialect and the near-sociopathic zeal of Rose Lee's grandmother Ma Pearl and her lighter-skinned cousin Queen. Ma Pearl is an emotionally remote tyrant who seems to derive glee from crushing Rose Lee's spirits. And Queen is so glib and self-centered she's almost a cartoon.

The bird’s-eye view into this pivotal moment provides a powerful story, one that adults will applaud—but between the avalanche of old-South homilies and Rose Lee’s relentlessly hopeless struggle, it may be a hard sell for younger readers. (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-78510-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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FROM ANOTHER WORLD

When Mariano’s mother and friend decide to restore and convert an old plantation house into an inn, the ghostly apparition of Rosario, a slave child from the previous century, brings to light a story of cruel mass murder in 19th-century Brazil. With three friends, Leo, Elisa and Tere, Mariano experiences a series of séance visits during the late night hours as Rosario tells them the history of her family and how the laws overturning slavery caused their cruel master to lock his slaves in a burning barn rather than grant them freedom. Only her little brother Amaro escaped and it turns out he became the only heir to the plantation. Rosario wants the truth recorded and remembered and requests Mariano write it down. Told in the first person from the boy’s point of view, the “visits” slowly piece together the slave child’s mysterious bits of information later verified by Leo’s grandmother. Translated from the Portuguese, this Hans Christian Andersen award winner weaves together a mildly enigmatic yet unexciting plot that purports themes of freedom and justice accompanied by slightly cubist-style charcoal or pastel drawings. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-88899-597-0

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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