MACARONI BOY

Pinning her narrative to a few key historical details, Ayres makes the Pittsburgh Strip during the Depression the setting for Mike Costa’s need to find out why his grandfather is so sick. Costa Brothers Fine Foods means Mike’s father and his three uncles; his grandfather doesn’t always remember that now, and Mike worries about him. Mike likes helping out in the family business—his job is emptying the rat traps in the basement—but he hasn’t quite figured out how to stop Andy Simms from picking on him. Mike doesn’t like Simms calling him Macaroni Boy, and he likes a new name, Rat Boy, even less. The rats seem to be getting sick even before being caught in Mike’s traps, and at first Mike thinks it comes from the rats eating rotten bananas from a warehouse explosion. But when Grandpap begins vomiting blood, Mike wonders if there’s any connection. Mike and his best friend, Joseph Ryan, methodically try to figure out what’s making the rats, and Grandpap, sick, while getting into occasional trouble with the nuns at school and with Simms regularly. Klavon’s, the local ice cream parlor (still in existence), and a local priest who runs a soup kitchen figure in the action, as Joseph and Mike solve the mystery. Vivid touches abound, like Mike and Joseph’s fascination with Joseph’s sisters’ lingerie. While there is little ethnically to distinguish Mike’s Italian-American father and uncles from his Irish mother (except their names), the warmth and family feeling is neatly if sketchily drawn. Enough grisly rat details and boyish bravado to keep the boys reading, and enough local color, familial comfort, and historical minutiae for the girls. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-73016-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Japanese-American Aki and her family operate an asparagus farm in Westminster, Calif., until they are summarily uprooted and...

SYLVIA & AKI

Two third-grade girls in California suffer the dehumanizing effects of racial segregation after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1942 in this moving story based on true events in the lives of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu.

Japanese-American Aki and her family operate an asparagus farm in Westminster, Calif., until they are summarily uprooted and dispatched to an internment camp in Poston, Ariz., for the duration of World War II. As Aki endures the humiliation and deprivation of the hot, cramped barracks, she wonders if there’s “something wrong with being Japanese.” Sylvia’s Mexican-American family leases the Munemitsu farm. She expects to attend the local school but faces disappointment when authorities assign her to a separate, second-rate school for Mexican kids. In response, Sylvia’s father brings a legal action against the school district arguing against segregation in what eventually becomes a successful landmark case. Their lives intersect after Sylvia finds Aki’s doll, meets her in Poston and sends her letters. Working with material from interviews, Conkling alternates between Aki and Sylvia’s stories, telling them in the third person from the war’s start in 1942 through its end in 1945, with an epilogue updating Sylvia’s story to 1955.

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-337-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more