NOTHING ELSE BUT MIRACLES

An absorbing tale about urban life on the World War II homefront.

It’s 1944, and Dory, 12, and her brothers, Fish, 17, and Pike, 7, are living alone; their father has joined the Navy, and their mother is dead from tuberculosis.

The Byrnes live on New York City’s Lower East Side. Their neighbors assist with food, but when a new landlord finds out their dad is away, he makes trouble for the siblings. Dory, an independent risk taker, learns of a long-disused dumbwaiter inside Mr. Caputo’s restaurant in the Fulton Fish Market, where he regularly treats the kids to seafood stew. She uses the dumbwaiter to explore the otherwise inaccessible floors of an old hotel and brings her brothers there to live so they can avoid being sent to an orphanage. The story is both grounded in reality and embellished with entertaining exploits, keeping readers excited about Dory’s experiences as she holds her family together and they await their papa. Occasionally, the text shifts from third to second person and shares with readers knowledge that is hidden from Dory, such as a mystery about a hidden diamond. The novel develops the setting through the kids’ visits to places like the Empire State Building and Coney Island. Dory is an endearing character who confides her thoughts to Libby, her nickname for the Statue of Liberty. In the author’s note, the secrets behind the real hotel that inspired this story are revealed. Characters read white.

An absorbing tale about urban life on the World War II homefront. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780823451630

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

STEALING HOME

An emotional, much-needed historical graphic novel.

Sandy and his family, Japanese Canadians, experience hatred and incarceration during World War II.

Sandy Saito loves baseball, and the Vancouver Asahi ballplayers are his heroes. But when they lose in the 1941 semifinals, Sandy’s dad calls it a bad omen. Sure enough, in December 1941, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor in the U.S. The Canadian government begins to ban Japanese people from certain areas, moving them to “dormitories” and setting a curfew. Sandy wants to spend time with his father, but as a doctor, his dad is busy, often sneaking out past curfew to work. One night Papa is taken to “where he [is] needed most,” and the family is forced into an internment camp. Life at the camp isn’t easy, and even with some of the Asahi players playing ball there, it just isn’t the same. Trying to understand and find joy again, Sandy struggles with his new reality and relationship with his father. Based on the true experiences of Japanese Canadians and the Vancouver Asahi team, this graphic novel is a glimpse of how their lives were affected by WWII. The end is a bit abrupt, but it’s still an inspiring and sweet look at how baseball helped them through hardship. The illustrations are all in a sepia tone, giving it an antique look and conveying the emotions and struggles. None of the illustrations of their experiences are overly graphic, making it a good introduction to this upsetting topic for middle-grade readers.

An emotional, much-needed historical graphic novel. (afterword, further resources) (Graphic historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0334-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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