Despite an adult narrative outlook and structural complexities, there’s plenty here for ruminative young readers to latch...

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THE LITTLE PRINCESS

First and (so far) only English edition of a Slovak novelist and playwright’s dreamlike encounter with a neighbor’s unborn child.

The playful, semi-surreal illustrations in this ethereal tale are reminiscent in tone to The Little Prince, a connection enhanced by explicit direct references to the classic at beginning and end. The narrative plaits together three elements: the author’s introspective commentary, conversations in a dark, stalled elevator with a naive child claiming to be “prematurely lost” and that child’s brief visits with the women (mostly older mothers) who occupy the building’s apartments. The app’s simple but effective digital effects (all of which can be stilled or switched off) include ambient background music with occasional quiet sounds. Stars, lamps and other items spin, fall, light up or drift from side to side at a stately pace and can be controlled in limited ways with a fingertip. An innovative language-switching feature transforms the pages of text from English to Slovak and back with a turn of the tablet. Minor translation glitches aside, the episode offers a nourishing set of simple philosophical observations (“The most important thing is to know where one belongs”) presented in oblique but not impenetrable language, a character gallery of moms and intricate, sophisticated illustrations that reward both visual and tactile exploration.

Despite an adult narrative outlook and structural complexities, there’s plenty here for ruminative young readers to latch onto—just like The Little Prince. (iPad storybook app. 10-14, adult)

Pub Date: April 23, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: iAdverti s.r.o.

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Brava! (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava! (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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