Editor Armstrong (Theodore Roosevelt, p. 104, etc.) compiles a subtle and wrenching assortment of stories about war and its effects on children—particularly poignant in light of the events of September 11th. Familiar and lesser-known young adult authors cover the Civil War, WWI and WWII, the Cold War, and Vietnam, as well as conflicts in Central and South America and the Middle East. The stories are remarkable not only for their depth, but also for how much they avoid cliché and truly delve into the long-term consequences of war on children. One addresses the issue of the conscientious objectors to US involvement in Vietnam through the eyes of a young Quaker’s friends and family. Another tells of the librarian in a small town who is accused of being a Communist during the days of the Cold War and how this false statement affects her son. Yet another describes the slightly impaired son of a Vietnam veteran (readers assume he suffered from the effects of Agent Orange) and how his father’s grim experiences as a soldier shaped his childhood. Each features a line of factual information relating to the particular war running across the bottom of the pages. This tactic is helpful in placing the story in context, but the main narrative is usually so strong that it’s easy to overlook the line. Armstrong also includes a very personal introduction, detailing her reasons for compiling this collection. Authors provide biographical information and some background for their story at the back. This volume would be a valuable addition to a school library and would be especially useful in a social studies/history classroom, where it could be used several times as the different time periods are taught. It would also be a meaningful read-aloud for junior-high classes. An outstanding collection important at any time. (Short stories. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81112-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2001

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

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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...


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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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