With many higher-quality Holocaust narratives to choose from, this is one to skip.

THE BRAVE PRINCESS AND ME

A clever princess hides a young Jewish girl and her mother during the Holocaust.

The story is told from the point of view of Tilde, a Greek Jewish girl whose mother brings her to the home of Princess Alice von Battenberg to plead for a place to hide. Princess Alice agrees to hide them, even risking her safety to hinder a Gestapo search. In what reads as a cheap twist, Alice reveals her secret deafness to an astonished Tilde. The moment falls flat, in part because readers have already learned of Alice’s deafness in an unnecessary preamble. Despite its basis in true events, the stilted narrative reduces deafness to inspirational set dressing. In a concluding note Kacer explains, “[Alice] was also very smart. She learned to lip-read in three languages with such skill that many people never knew she couldn’t hear.” Regardless of the author’s intent, this correlation perpetuates the common misconception that the ability to communicate using spoken language is a barometer for intelligence. Also impossible to ignore is the book’s resounding silence on the fates of those d/Deaf people who lacked the political connections that shielded Princess Alice. There is a need for literature addressing the experiences of d/Deaf people in the Holocaust, but this book does not rise to the task. Kolesova’s illustrations are attractive but static, neither clarifying nor augmenting the text.

With many higher-quality Holocaust narratives to choose from, this is one to skip. (biographical note, photos) (Picture book. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77260-102-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Second Story Press

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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