A richly detailed debut with a classic feel, full of grit, gore, and gilt.

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THE EXECUTIONER'S DAUGHTER

When she tries to save her neck, a young girl learns there are dangers outside the dungeon too.

Brought to the Tower of London as a motherless baby, 12-year-old Moss hates her limited life and reviled role as the basket girl, carrying the heads of the newly decapitated after Pa beheads Henry VIII’s prisoners. She loves stories, like the one of the Riverwitch, but she rebels when she doubts her father’s tales of their ties to the tower. Seizing the first chance at freedom, Moss plunges right into the Thames and danger. She hobnobs with nobles, befriends a boot thief, and tangles with the supernatural spirit who tries to lure children beneath the icy surface. Hardstaff gambles with her blend of fiction and folklore and her compression of dates, but she excels with her depiction of Tudor England, offering lavish descriptions of clothing and food, a moderate amount of lower-class dialect, and a slew of stench and grime. Anne Boleyn comes off a bit too prescient and moralistic to be believed, but court politics get an arch appraisal. Unhampered by any real historical role yet propelled by the fairy-tale undercurrent, Moss shifts, rebellious adolescent, clever child, and fortuitous historical-fiction heroine by turn.

A richly detailed debut with a classic feel, full of grit, gore, and gilt. (Historical fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-60684-562-2

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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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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An outstanding new edition of this popular modern classic (Newbery Award, 1961), with an introduction by Zena Sutherland and...

ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS

Coming soon!!

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1990

ISBN: 0-395-53680-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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