MOLLY’S FIRE

The daughter of a WWII fighter pilot is the only one who refuses to believe that he has been killed when his plane is shot down over Holland. Molly lives a perfectly normal life in a small fishing town in Maine until her father enlists in the air force, disrupting their heretofore routine lives. The 13-year-old adores her father, with whom she has always had an especially close relationship. Father and daughter even have a special place to which they often go to talk—the ruins of an old church on a cliff by the sea. Molly’s fears are realized when the dreaded telegram comes—plane shot down; pilot presumed dead. Despite her family’s attempt to get Molly to accept what appears to be the truth, Molly steadfastly refuses to believe that her father is dead. Throughout the novel, Molly works on a project of excavating a stained glass window whose pieces are buried in the old churchyard with the goal of reconstructing it as a Christmas present for the father she is firmly convinced will return. She also watches her mother, now presumably a widow, become involved with the father of the school bully. During the course of the story Molly befriends the rich boy in town and also becomes friends with a half-Asian classmate, who is quickly relegated to the role of scapegoat by insensitive students and townspeople. Unfortunately, the writing tends towards the pedestrian, and many of the characters are straight out of central casting—the poor misunderstood rich boy, the token Jew whose family is caught up in the Holocaust, and the brave, noble, and unfairly treated Asian-American. A well-meaning but so-so story burdened with an ending that’s awfully hard to buy. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82612-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more