Veteran Lasky combines the Robin Hood/Maid Marian story with falconry. Matty and Fynn are childhood friends, playing together when Matty is not being taught by her father, Lord William, to work with hawks. She begins to understand hawk language, getting inside their minds as she trains them. When Prince John and his allies murder Matty’s mother for her jewels, her father pines away. Loyal to King Richard, Matty, Fynn and a host of local lads work to keep their families fed and Prince John hassled—and then to raise the funds to ransom Richard when he is captured. Flash-forward: Matty has metamorphosed into Marian and Fynn into Robin Hood, paving the way for more derring-do. Matty/Marian’s uncanny communication with her hawks takes the novel into the realm of fantasy as she slips into the mind of bird after bird to effect her own rescue, bring ransom to Eleanor of Aquitaine and declare her love for Fynn/Robin. Each chapter begins with a bit of hawk lore (not sourced). It doesn’t bear up under scrutiny, but it’s fun to read. (author’s note) (Historical fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-000071-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)


From the Plot to Kill Hitler series , Vol. 1

Near the end of World War II, two kids join their parents in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

Max, 12, lives with his parents and his older sister in a Berlin that’s under constant air bombardment. During one such raid, a mortally wounded man stumbles into the white German family’s home and gasps out his last wish: “The Führer must die.” With this nighttime visitation, Max and Gerta discover their parents have been part of a resistance cell, and the siblings want in. They meet a colorful band of upper-class types who seem almost too whimsical to be serious. Despite her charming levity, Prussian aristocrat and cell leader Frau Becker is grimly aware of the stakes. She enlists Max and Gerta as couriers who sneak forged identification papers to Jews in hiding. Max and Gerta are merely (and realistically) cogs in the adults’ plans, but there’s plenty of room for their own heroism. They escape capture, rescue each other when they’re caught out during an air raid, and willingly put themselves repeatedly at risk to catch a spy. The fictional plotters—based on a mix of several real anti-Hitler resistance cells—are portrayed with a genuine humor, giving them the space to feel alive even in such a slim volume.

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35902-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A poignant account of Columbus's landfall in the Americas, from a Taino boy's point of view. After a terrible prophetic dream, the lad begs his elders not to welcome the strangers, but they disregard him. He sees how they look at his people's gold; he temporarily becomes their captive; and at the end, as an old man, he sadly notes: "We lost our lands...we gave our souls to their gods...our sons and daughters became their sons and daughters, no longer true humans...." Shannon's dark, richly colored paintings brilliantly capture the story's emotion and the sense of worlds colliding; Europeans are rendered with a rugged realism that strongly recalls the work of N.C. Wyeth, and the Native Americans look like polished wooden figurines— with the border between these two realities shifting and changing. The author closes with a historical note, while the illustrator ends with an apology for adding loincloths to his figures. O tempora! O mores! (Picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-15-225962-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1992

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