Well-crafted, warm, and wonderful.

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ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T. COOK

Positive thinking proves powerful for Perry Cook and his incarcerated mother.

The Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in Surprise, Nebraska, is the only home the sixth-grader has ever known. His official foster parent, the warden of the minimum security facility, has let him stay with his birth mother there for nearly 12 years. When an ambitious district attorney yanks him out and delays Jessica Cook’s parole application, Perry has to use his jail-honed skill of focusing on the positive to cope with his new foster placement with the DA’s family and to get his mother released. This portrayal of prison life from the inside and from a child's point of view doesn't ignore unhappy realities, but it highlights the good: Jessica’s social work, the support of their prison “family,” and the love the prisoners have for their "mouse in the house." Similarly, while some have his back at school, including his best friend, Zoey—who’s also the DA's stepdaughter—bullies are there, too. Related in short, episodic chapters, the narrative spans the eight weeks Perry spends at the DA’s, concentrating in the first person on his experience but occasionally interrupting to look in on Jessica in the third person. Readers even learn some other prisoners’ stories. With complex, memorable characters, a situation that demands sympathy, and a story that’s shown, not just told, this is fresh and affecting.

Well-crafted, warm, and wonderful. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-233346-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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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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