An amusing and richly rewarding tale that features a very likable, one-of-kind protagonist.

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ANNA WAS HERE

Anna, almost 10, is a worrier, so her family’s temporary move from Colorado to her father’s hometown in Kansas seems fraught with peril to her.

Founder of her own Safety Club (with just two remaining members), which is tasked with identifying potential dangers (including escape from a pyramid) and creating appropriate safety rules, Anna is nearly always prepared for any eventuality. But when her father, a minister, receives a call to straighten out a church in Oakwood, Kan., where many of the residents are his relatives, she’s unprepared and decides the best way to handle things is to “stay folded up” and studiously avoid getting settled in the new town. She manages to keep from starting school, doesn’t get too friendly with her large extended family, tries to keep her cat inside and skips out on Sunday school. However, her growing attachment to that family—and a tornado sweeping through town—gives her an opportunity to see things differently. Anna’s internal voice is pitch-perfect, and her pithy safety rules and ability to connect the dots between religion and life are often hilarious. She imagines an encounter with a troublesome neighbor: “I was standing there frizzy with light, shouting, ‘I’m not just a girl, you know. The angel Gabriel is basically my best friend.’ ”

An amusing and richly rewarding tale that features a very likable, one-of-kind protagonist. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-056493-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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IRENA'S JARS OF SECRETS

Irena Sendler is enshrined at Yad Vashem as “righteous among nations” for her courage in rescuing Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Brought up by her parents to respect all people, Irena could not stand by and watch the horrors of Hitler’s methodical extermination of the Jews of Warsaw. She worked with a secret underground group to carry out a variety of elaborate deceptions to spirit hundreds of children out of the ghetto to be hidden by other brave gentiles. She kept meticulous records hidden in buried jars because she hoped to reunite the children with their own families at the end of the war, a hope that proved futile because almost all the parents died in the concentration camps. She was captured, tortured and scheduled for execution, but she managed to escape and go into hiding. Finding a way to impart even a small understanding of the Holocaust to children is a task fraught with difficulties: How can anyone comprehend such insanity? Vaughan tells the true story without embellishment, employing stark, unadorned syntax that never wavers into pathos, sentiment or myth. It is a definition of quiet heroism. Mazellan’s very dark, deeply shadowed oil paintings capture the unabated terror and sorrow. Children should read this work with an adult who is armed with some knowledge of the material.

Powerful. (afterword, glossary, sources) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-60060-439-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Strange and powerful.

THE GOLEM OF PRAGUE

A dark, mystical tale raised from ancient Jewish folklore tells of a young boy and his encounter with a golem in this picture book for older readers.

A golem is a humanlike giant made of clay or mud, with powers used at the direction of its creator. In 1580 this creature was created by the venerated Rabbi Loew for the purpose of protecting the Jews of Prague from the blood libel, or accusations that they used the blood of Christian children in rituals. Now, in the winter of 1892, young Frantz is determined to search for the golem’s remains, said to be in the attic of the Old New Synagogue. Finding a huge, old, dirty coat there, he beds down in it, sinks into a deep sleep, and experiences the events of that long-ago winter. The two eras are interwoven and filled with parallels. When Frantz awakens in his own time, he is confused and shaken. His beloved, Miriam, has also had disturbing dreams, in which she interacted with the golem and saw Frantz in its eyes. The tale moves from 1892 to 1580 and back, employing beautifully crafted descriptive detail of both history and lore, always maintaining a sense of mystery and awe. Quarello’s very dark, finely drawn illustrations appear in full-page or double-page spreads and present a menacing, violent, sorrowful quality.

Strange and powerful. (glossary) (Picture book. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55451-888-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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