This charming, engrossing tale set in a vividly realized world is expertly paced and will appeal to fans of wilderness...

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ORPHAN ISLAND

When the bell rings and the green boat emerges from the mist, gliding up into the cove, Jinny knows that it is time: time for her beloved Deen to leave and for a new child to take his place.

Now Jinny will become the Elder, and the balance of life on the island will be maintained. The ragtag bunch of nine orphans—each one “boat” (year) apart in age—are the sole human residents of a benevolent wilderness, busy chasing wild kittens and harvesting honey from docile bees, reading from a stockpile of tattered books, and inducting each new arrival into their ways. Once someone broke the rule about never picking the last of anything, but having experienced the consequences (no more curlyferns!), they are careful now to behave. That is, until Jinny—spirited, curious, and defiant—decides to break the most sacred rule of the island, throwing their universe frighteningly out of whack. The children’s hair (black, red, blond) and eyes (blue, brown) are described, and Jinny remarks on the dark skin of two of her fellow orphans; the cover art shows a girl with dark brown skin. Despite the idyllic setting, one where children can safely fling themselves off cliffs and surf air currents, the story is suffused with melancholy and the haunting absence of parents and former residents. The mystery of the children’s origins and the source of their stockpile of supplies are never resolved, perhaps indicating a sequel to come.

This charming, engrossing tale set in a vividly realized world is expertly paced and will appeal to fans of wilderness adventure stories and character-driven relationship novels alike. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-244341-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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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...

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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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