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

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 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019


The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952


Certain to steal hearts.

In this follow-up to 2020’s The One and Only Bob, Ruby the elephant is still living at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary.

She’s apprehensive about her Tuskday, a rite of passage for young elephants when she’ll give a speech in front of the rest of the herd. Luckily, she can confide in her Uncle Ivan, who is next door in Gorilla World, and Uncle Bob, the dog who lives nearby with human friend Julia. Ruby was born in an unspecified part of Africa, later ending up on display in the mall, where she met Ivan, Bob, and Julia. The unexpected arrival of someone from Ruby’s past life on the savanna revives memories both warmly nostalgic and deeply traumatic. An elephant glossary and Castelao’s charming, illustrated guide to elephant body language help immerse readers in Ruby’s world. Goofy, playful, and mischievous Ruby is fully dimensional, as she has shown her bravery during the many hardships of her young life. Applegate deftly tempers themes of grief and loss with compassion and humor as Ruby finds her place in the herd. The author’s note touches on climate change, the illegal ivory trade, and conservation efforts, but the highly emotive framing of the story through the memories of a bewildered baby elephant emphasizes the impact of lines such as “ ‘in Africa,’ I say softly, ‘there were bad people,’ ” without offering readers a nuanced understanding of the broader context that drives poaching.

Certain to steal hearts. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780063080089

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

Close Quickview