A fascinating work of historical fiction that showcases a well-developed, likable protagonist and presents Cline-Ransome at...

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FINDING LANGSTON

A Great Migration novella with a vivid, believable protagonist.

When Langston’s mother dies in 1946, his father feels that Alabama has nothing left for him and moves himself and Langston to Chicago, where Negroes could make a living wage and avoid the severe discrimination so prevalent in the South. A sensitive boy who loved his mother deeply, Langston has spent so little time with his father that he doesn’t really know him. When he becomes the target of schoolyard bullies who call him “country boy,” his loneliness sends him to the George Cleveland Hall branch of the Chicago Public Library, where he learns that African-Americans are welcome, which is different from Alabama. A kind librarian helps him find books—including poetry by Langston Hughes, for whom she assumes he has been named. From snooping into letters his dad has saved, he realizes that his mother loved the poetry of Langston Hughes, which inspires him to read everything Hughes has written. Cline-Ransome creates a poignant, bittersweet story of a young black boy who comes to accept his new home while gaining newfound knowledge of the African-American literary tradition. Langston’s heartfelt, present-tense narration, which assumes a black default, gathers readers so close they’ll be sad to see his story conclude.

A fascinating work of historical fiction that showcases a well-developed, likable protagonist and presents Cline-Ransome at her best. (Historical fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3960-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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