MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS

QUEEN WITHOUT A COUNTRY

In keeping with the theme of the Royal Diaries Series, one year in the life of young Mary Stuart is told as if she had kept a journal. The historical detail rings true: Mary’s coronation as Queen of Scotland as an infant; her betrothal at age five to the Dauphin of France in a geopolitical effort to foil the British; her upbringing in the French court under the care of Henry II and Catherine de Medici. But it is the personal details that will keep readers’ attention. Lasky (Mommy’s Hands, p. 416, etc.) portrays a queen who is well aware of her power and position at age 11, yet experiences universal emotions more typical of her age: a longing for love and friendship; joy in fancy clothes and dances; a desire to be respected and “grown-up,” coupled with the urge to remain childlike. Mary’s yearning for her mother back in Scotland and for her homeland itself are heartbreaking, but her goodhearted intentions toward her attendants, affection toward her future husband, efforts to be ready for First Communion, perceptive comments about the other members of the French court, and her assurance that even at 11 she must conduct herself as a queen make this year in her life more inspiring than sad. An epilogue, historical note, and annotated family tree put the events in perspective and reveal the unfortunate ending to Mary’s life: she was beheaded as a rival to the English throne at age 45. Mary, Queen of Scots remains a beloved figure to history buffs; this enjoyable and approachable account should serve as a springboard for further inquiry for today’s readers. (Historical fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-19404-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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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...

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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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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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