Characterization flaws keep it from packing an emotional wallop, but it’s still a fine adventure.

MOONSHINE

The son of a Depression-era bootlegger tries to turn his father to more lawful pursuits.

Thirteen-year-old Cub can’t remember a time when making shine was legal, his father was a farmer, or his mother was alive. He and Pa spend their nights in the woods near their ramshackle Tennessee cabin, cooking the scant crop of corn their land will grow into moonshine. Change begins when Pa announces that, for the first time, Cub will have to attend school in the nearby town—the local sheriff is threatening Pa with jail time and Cub with an orphanage unless they give up their illegal ways. Not long after, the situation reverses when Mr. Salvatore, a mobster from up North, tries to make Pa an offer he can’t refuse. When Cub attempts to intervene, his father is severely injured, and Cub has to try to find his way out of the mess. Smooth, lyrical writing and crisp regional dialogue are the strengths of this debut. Inconsistent characters are its primary weakness: Cub seems to mature far too quickly into the role of moral arbitrator, and the excuse that his rural school opens his eyes doesn’t hold water; his father vacillates irrationally between strong and weak. The sheriff and the mobster come from central casting. Benton knows his landscape, however, and should be a strong voice for the future.

Characterization flaws keep it from packing an emotional wallop, but it’s still a fine adventure. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62979-811-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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A sympathetic, compelling introduction to wolves from the perspective of one wolf and his memorable journey.

A WOLF CALLED WANDER

Separated from his pack, Swift, a young wolf, embarks on a perilous search for a new home.

Swift’s mother impresses on him early that his “pack belongs to the mountains and the mountains belong to the pack.” His father teaches him to hunt elk, avoid skunks and porcupines, revere the life that gives them life, and “carry on” when their pack is devastated in an attack by enemy wolves. Alone and grieving, Swift reluctantly leaves his mountain home. Crossing into unfamiliar territory, he’s injured and nearly dies, but the need to run, hunt, and live drives him on. Following a routine of “walk-trot-eat-rest,” Swift traverses prairies, canyons, and deserts, encountering men with rifles, hunger, thirst, highways, wild horses, a cougar, and a forest fire. Never imagining the “world could be so big or that I could be so alone in it,” Swift renames himself Wander as he reaches new mountains and finds a new home. Rife with details of the myriad scents, sounds, tastes, touches, and sights in Swift/Wander’s primal existence, the immediacy of his intimate, first-person, present-tense narration proves deeply moving, especially his longing for companionship. Realistic black-and-white illustrations trace key events in this unique survival story, and extensive backmatter fills in further factual information about wolves and their habitat.

A sympathetic, compelling introduction to wolves from the perspective of one wolf and his memorable journey. (additional resources, map) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-289593-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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