A MILLION MILES FROM BOSTON

With sixth grade—and elementary school—finally over, Lucy is excited about summer. As usual, she’ll be spending it with her widowed father and younger brother in the family’s summer cottage in a tight-knit coastal vacation community in Maine. But two major changes threaten to ruin her vacation. Annoying, almost-a-bully classmate Ian and his family are new summer neighbors, and the PT, her father’s girlfriend (she began as his physical therapist), will be visiting—a lot. Lucy has plenty of issues with the PT, mostly related to her unresolved grief over her mother’s death six years ago. Ian also has issues, which seem to be tied to his high-school–aged sister, Alison. Is she what she first appears—smart, talented and a lot like Lucy—or perhaps a bullying, manipulative liar? To raise money for a kayak, Lucy has carefully organized a babysitting camp for the community’s younger children, patiently dealing with their problems, and she introspectively examines her relationship with Ian in her first-person narration. These signs of maturity make her frequent outbursts over the PT’s gentle overtures out of character. As the summer progresses, Lucy gets to know both Ian and the PT better, discovering that things and people aren’t always what they first appear. A pleasant but never compelling effort that captures the flavor of preteen-hood even if it misses the mark with its protagonist. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-73899-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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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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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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