YELLOW STAR

Syvia—the author’s aunt—is too young to know what’s happening, but she and her family have been evicted from their home and, with the other neighborhood Jews, have been relocated to the Lodz ghetto at the start of WWII. This novel-in-verse tells how Syvia and her family struggled to survive the war and describes their lives in the ghetto, Syvia being one of only 12 children who walked out at the end of the war. Poetry blends fact and fiction in a powerful format that helps make this incomprehensible event in history comprehensible for children. The fictionalized story is given context by brief nonfiction chapter introductions and is personalized by vivid characters who speak to a young-adult audience. Young readers will find this gripping tale that reads like memoir textured with the sounds, smell and sights of children in captivity. By telling this story so credibly and convincingly through the eyes of a child, the terror of the experience is rendered fresh and palpable for even the most jaded child reader. Classroom teachers might want to partner this book with Jerry Spinelli’s Milkweed (2003). (Historical fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7614-5277-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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

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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

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An outstanding new edition of this popular modern classic (Newbery Award, 1961), with an introduction by Zena Sutherland and...

ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS

Coming soon!!

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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