Respectful, if not particularly informative or revealing.

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SHIFTING SANDS

LIFE IN THE TIMES OF MOSES, JESUS, AND MUHAMMAD

In this trio of short stories, teenagers have brief but life-changing encounters with religious leaders or founders.

All three young people make decisions that solidify their senses of collective identity: Dina must choose between the relative comforts of life as a slave to one of pharaoh’s queens or heeding her “rebel” great-uncle Moses’ call to freedom; the miracles and message of Mattan’s one-time Nazareth neighbor ease his restlessness and show him a better way to resist his Roman overlords; though it means leaving Mecca and his own tribe behind, Fallah joins Muhammad’s new community, in which “everybody has equal value—everybody.” Beckert depicts the narrators in three painted scenes, but Moses, Jesus and Muhammad appear only in the prose—and there just briefly. Though Lowinger’s portrayals of the three eras are idealized, she does fold some historical detail into both the stories and epilogues that follow each. Along with contrasting the simplicity of monotheism over polytheism throughout, she also incorporates a few very basic teachings and appends short notes on each faith’s scriptures and cultural practices.

Respectful, if not particularly informative or revealing. (maps) (Short stories. 10-13)

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55451-617-9

Page Count: 118

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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In the spirit of Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic (1988), with a mix of historical details about the women's-suffrage...

BLUE THREAD

Travels in time give a middle-class girl the courage to fight for both women's suffrage and her own dreams.

Sixteen-year-old Miriam, lover of typography, wants nothing more than to train at her father's print shop. But respectable, well-to-do girls don't work with heavy machinery in 1912 Portland, Ore. Miriam's immigrant Jewish parents, proud of the future they've built from poverty, intend an advantageous marriage for their only living child. If befriending a lovely pair of poor young suffragists isn't enough to make Miriam rebel, what is? Perhaps time travel is what she needs. Miriam is visited by her biblical relative, Serakh, who begs Miriam to travel back in time to help her ancestors. The daughters of Zelophehad seek a favor from Moses, and Miriam is needed to provide them with courage. Miriam pops back and forth between worlds: well-to-do Portland, where she makes morning calls and attends fancy-dress parties; biblical Moab; and the equally exotic, alien environment of suffragist marches and working-class neighborhoods. It takes all three to help her find the initiative, empathy and common sense to help push her toward adulthood.

In the spirit of Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic (1988), with a mix of historical details about the women's-suffrage movement and early printing, tied together with a very Jewish thread of historical continuity . (Historical fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-932010-41-1

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Ooligan Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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ANYA'S WAR

It's 1937, and Anya is becoming accustomed to Shanghai. Her family had to flee Odessa in the night after Papa told that ugly policeman he wouldn't join the Communist Party. Now China is home for her whole family: Papa, Mama (a former opera singer), Mama's parents, Babushka and Dedushka, and baby brother Georgi. In Shanghai's French Quarter, they live Jewish lives as if the Japanese weren't advancing on the city. Anya's biggest worry is the prospect of telling her mother she doesn't want to become an opera singer—until the day she finds a baby in the gutter. Will Mama and Papa let her keep the baby? Anya's Shanghai is richly chaotic, polyglot and packed with refugees. Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew, Mandarin Chinese and Italian pepper the dialogue. Meanwhile, immigrant Anya happily devours her buckwheat piroshki with chopsticks after Papa has recited the Hebrew blessings over the food. The chaos of the prose is less felicitous; characters whisk between conversations without segue. A delightfully textured—but confusingly rushed—glimpse at a little-remembered period of Jewish history. (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-37093-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

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