For fans of Fforde and the first installment.

READ REVIEW

THE SONG OF THE QUARKBEAST

From the Chronicles of Kazam series , Vol. 2

Fforde’s signature quirky humor and tongue-in-cheek social commentary persist in the second book of The Chronicles of Kazam trilogy (The Last Dragonslayer, 2012).

Foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, a business that finds practical uses for the Ununited Kingdom’s dwindling magic—delivering pizza by magic carpet, unclogging drains—while awaiting the return of real magic. Kazam’s competition, Industrial Magic, wants a monopoly on magic, with plans to use it for financial gain. A contest will decide the future of magic: Whichever company is faster in repairing Hereford’s medieval bridge will control all magic. The story is rife with magic spells, often humorously botched, and wonderfully imagined characters—including a new love interest for Jennifer. Fforde’s clever wordplay and social satire poke fun at everything from corporations and the monarchy to talentless boy bands and T-shirt slogans. But this impedes the episodic plot and raises the question of audience for the book, as many allusions and puns may elude American teens. Jennifer, likable in her lack of magical powers, seems older than her 16 years; her delivery of dialogue often sounds as though she is reading aloud. The storyline is less strong than that of the first book, making this seem a setup for the final installment. Indeed, the titular Quarkbeast barely makes an appearance.

For fans of Fforde and the first installment. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-73848-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe.

PRISONER B-3087

If Anne Frank had been a boy, this is the story her male counterpart might have told. At least, the very beginning of this historical novel reads as such.

It is 1939, and Yanek Gruener is a 10-year old Jew in Kraków when the Nazis invade Poland. His family is forced to live with multiple other families in a tiny apartment as his beloved neighborhood of Podgórze changes from haven to ghetto in a matter of weeks. Readers will be quickly drawn into this first-person account of dwindling freedoms, daily humiliations and heart-wrenching separations from loved ones. Yet as the story darkens, it begs the age-old question of when and how to introduce children to the extremes of human brutality. Based on the true story of the life of Jack Gruener, who remarkably survived not just one, but 10 different concentration camps, this is an extraordinary, memorable and hopeful saga told in unflinching prose. While Gratz’s words and early images are geared for young people, and are less gory than some accounts, Yanek’s later experiences bear a closer resemblance to Elie Wiesel’s Night than more middle-grade offerings, such as Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. It may well support classroom work with adult review first.

A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-45901-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch.

RESISTANCE

A Jewish girl joins up with Polish resistance groups to fight for her people against the evils of the Holocaust.

Chaya Lindner is forcibly separated from her family when they are consigned to the Jewish ghetto in Krakow. The 16-year-old is taken in by the leaders of Akiva, a fledgling Jewish resistance group that offers her the opportunity to become a courier, using her fair coloring to pass for Polish and sneak into ghettos to smuggle in supplies and information. Chaya’s missions quickly become more dangerous, taking her on a perilous journey from a disastrous mission in Krakow to the ghastly ghetto of Lodz and eventually to Warsaw to aid the Jews there in their gathering uprising inside the walls of the ghetto. Through it all, she is partnered with a secretive young girl whom she is reluctant to trust. The trajectory of the narrative skews toward the sensational, highlighting moments of resistance via cinematic action sequences but not pausing to linger on the emotional toll of the Holocaust’s atrocities. Younger readers without sufficient historical knowledge may not appreciate the gravity of the events depicted. The principal characters lack depth, and their actions and the situations they find themselves in often require too much suspension of disbelief to pass for realism.

Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-14847-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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