A rousing romp for monster hunters and monster lovers alike.

A ROYAL GUIDE TO MONSTER SLAYING

From the Royal Guide to Monster Slaying series , Vol. 1

A young princess would rather hunt monsters than sit on a throne but soon finds that she has a lot to learn if she is going to save her kingdom.

In each generation of Tamerel’s royal clan, the firstborn inherits the throne to become monarch and the secondborn inherits the sword to become royal monster hunter. Twelve-year-old Rowan will be queen, and her twin brother, Rhydd, will wield the sword. There’s only one problem—each of them is far better suited to the other’s role. Despite her natural monster-hunting gifts, Rowan is resigned to be the best queen she can, though that doesn’t stop her from learning all she can about monsters and following her brother on hunts. But when tragedy strikes the family, royal roles are thrown out the window, and with the fate of the kingdom hanging in the balance, Rowan must hunt down one of the deadliest monsters of all or lose everything. Longtime master of YA thrills Armstrong (Aftermath, 2018, etc.) now brings her talent for frissons, drama, and dark humor to middle-grade fantasy. The primary plot is driven by equal parts hunt-or-be-hunted action, character motivations, and unexpected emotional depth. And in the background simmers political intrigue, personal ambition, and looming upheaval bound to spill over into the sequel. Rowan and Rhydd are children of color, and the world they inhabit is an inclusive one. An illustrated monster field guide appears in the backmatter.

A rousing romp for monster hunters and monster lovers alike. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6535-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Puffin/Penguin Random House Canada

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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...

NUMBER THE STARS

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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Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people.

GROUND ZERO

Parallel storylines take readers through the lives of two young people on Sept. 11 in 2001 and 2019.

In the contemporary timeline, Reshmina is an Afghan girl living in foothills near the Pakistan border that are a battleground between the Taliban and U.S. armed forces. She is keen to improve her English while her twin brother, Pasoon, is inspired by the Taliban and wants to avenge their older sister, killed by an American bomb on her wedding day. Reshmina helps a wounded American soldier, making her village a Taliban target. In 2001, Brandon Chavez is spending the day with his father, who works at the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World restaurant. Brandon is heading to the underground mall when a plane piloted by al-Qaida hits the tower, and his father is among those killed. The two storylines develop in parallel through alternating chapters. Gratz’s deeply moving writing paints vivid images of the loss and fear of those who lived through the trauma of 9/11. However, this nuance doesn’t extend to the Afghan characters; Reshmina and Pasoon feel one-dimensional. Descriptions of the Taliban’s Afghan victims and Reshmina's gentle father notwithstanding, references to all young men eventually joining the Taliban and Pasoon's zeal for their cause counteract this messaging. Explanations for the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan in the author’s note and in characters’ conversations too simplistically present the U.S. presence.

Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-24575-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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