A well-researched piece of historical fiction, just a bit flat as a novel.

PLAYING ATARI WITH SADDAM HUSSEIN

BASED ON A TRUE STORY

Ali’s hometown of Basra, Iraq, is near the border with Kuwait, which makes it a dangerous place to live in 1991, during Operation Desert Storm.

Eleven-year-old Ali Fadhil is a fan of American television and Superman comic books. He loves English class and playing football (soccer) with his friends. His Christian, Kurdish family’s affluent lifestyle is interrupted when a coalition of countries initiates military action to stop Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. Because of the war, Ali’s father is away, bombs fall daily, and Ali sleeps in “the safe room” with his mother and siblings. The food supply is cut off, so the family depends on government rations once their own stores run out. When his older brother, Shirzad, is appointed head of the family in his father’s absence and his mother begins burning his precious comic collection for heat, Ali has nearly all he can handle. Based on co-author Fadhil’s own childhood, the novel reads somewhat like a journal, detailing scenes in the neighborhood and changes to daily life, but as is often the case with real life, it lacks a solid climax and resolution. While Ali’s voice and emotional life lack the vitality that would draw readers in to the story, the snapshot of his society at war is strong, and there are very few children’s books in English with Kurdish protagonists.

A well-researched piece of historical fiction, just a bit flat as a novel. (Historical fiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-78507-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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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

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Though occasionally heavy-handed, this debut offers a vivid glimpse of the 1960s South through the eyes of a spirited girl...

GLORY BE

The closing of her favorite swimming pool opens 11-year-old Gloriana Hemphill’s eyes to the ugliness of racism in a small Mississippi town in 1964.

Glory can’t believe it… the Hanging Moss Community Pool is closing right before her July Fourth birthday. Not only that, she finds out the closure’s not for the claimed repairs needed, but so Negroes can’t swim there. Tensions have been building since “Freedom Workers” from the North started shaking up status quo, and Glory finds herself embroiled in it when her new, white friend from Ohio boldly drinks from the “Colored Only” fountain. The Hemphills’ African-American maid, Emma, a mother figure to Glory and her sister Jesslyn, tells her, “Don’t be worrying about what you can’t fix, Glory honey.” But Glory does, becoming an activist herself when she writes an indignant letter to the newspaper likening “hateful prejudice” to “dog doo” that makes her preacher papa proud. When she’s not saving the world, reading Nancy Drew or eating Dreamsicles, Glory shares the heartache of being the kid sister of a preoccupied teenager, friendship gone awry and the terrible cost of blabbing people’s secrets… mostly in a humorously sassy first-person voice.

Though occasionally heavy-handed, this debut offers a vivid glimpse of the 1960s South through the eyes of a spirited girl who takes a stand. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-33180-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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