Real events made deeply personal in an intense, bone-chilling reading experience.

Sophie Scholl was a young German student who wanted to see the end of Hitler and the Nazi regime. She gave her life for that cause.

As children, Sophie and her brother Hans were enthusiastic members of Hitler Youth organizations. But as the Nazis’ chokehold increased and the roundups and arrests of dissenters and Jews escalated, they became determined to resist. After conscription into the National Labor Service, Hans, Sophie, and trusted university friends formed the secret White Rose resistance group. Hans began to compose treasonable leaflets, promoting an uprising against Hitler. Sophie helped get the leaflets out to influential people as well as to other university students. Their work attracted the attention of Nazi sympathizers, who informed the Gestapo of suspicious activities—and they were ultimately caught by a university custodian. Intensive interrogation and imprisonment, followed by a sham trial led by a fanatical judge, led to the sentence of death by guillotine. Organized in repeated sections that move forward and backward in time, readers hear Sophie’s thoughts in brief, pointed, free-verse poems in direct, compelling language. Other poems give voice to individuals such as her boyfriend, Fritz, who served in the German army, and the Gestapo interrogator, adding to readers’ understanding of the inevitability of the outcome and the tragic futility of their sacrifice.

Real events made deeply personal in an intense, bone-chilling reading experience. (dramatis personae, glossary, author’s note, sources) (Verse historical fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-59443-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019


Frankly a delight.

A lively queer Camelot for modern audiences.

Several hundred years after the time of the fabled king Arthur Pendragon, Gwendoline and her older brother, Gabriel, are princess and prince of Camelot. Gwen has been betrothed since birth to Arthur Delacey, whose father’s family claims ancestry from Mordred. Gwen’s first problem with this arrangement is that she and Arthur hate each other. The second is revealed when Arthur comes to the royal castle for the summer tournament in which knights compete for renown—and Gwen catches him making out with a servant boy. But then Arthur obtains proof of Gwen’s obsession with Lady Bridget Leclair, England’s only female knight and a competitor in the tourney. Engaging in mutual blackmail, they form an understanding, though over the course of the summer it turns into an initially begrudging, then supportive friendship, especially when Arthur starts learning more about heir-to-the-throne Gabe. In this fun summer romance, Croucher creates main characters who feel distinctly modern in their dialogue and interactions. They maneuver through the historical setting, including social expectations and limited medical care, in ways that both seem natural and often offer commentary on more current affairs. This is a wonderful expansion of the YA romance genre. Gwen and her family are white, and she is coded queer and demisexual. Arthur is Iranian on his mother’s side and coded gay, as is Gabe. There is additional diversity in the supporting cast.

Frankly a delight. (Historical romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9781250847218

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023


Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers...

A harrowing tale of survival in the Killing Fields.

The childhood of Arn Chorn-Pond has been captured for young readers before, in Michelle Lord and Shino Arihara's picture book, A Song for Cambodia (2008). McCormick, known for issue-oriented realism, offers a fictionalized retelling of Chorn-Pond's youth for older readers. McCormick's version begins when the Khmer Rouge marches into 11-year-old Arn's Cambodian neighborhood and forces everyone into the country. Arn doesn't understand what the Khmer Rouge stands for; he only knows that over the next several years he and the other children shrink away on a handful of rice a day, while the corpses of adults pile ever higher in the mango grove. Arn does what he must to survive—and, wherever possible, to protect a small pocket of children and adults around him. Arn's chilling history pulls no punches, trusting its readers to cope with the reality of children forced to participate in murder, torture, sexual exploitation and genocide. This gut-wrenching tale is marred only by the author's choice to use broken English for both dialogue and description. Chorn-Pond, in real life, has spoken eloquently (and fluently) on the influence he's gained by learning English; this prose diminishes both his struggle and his story.

Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers will seek out the history themselves. (preface, author's note) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-173093-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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