Thoughtful, earnest, and gratifying.

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THE MEMORY WALL

Just as his mother enters a nursing home with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, a biracial (black and white) seventh-grade boy finds solace in a complex video game.

Nick Reeves hates everything about the day that his white mom goes to be “locked up” at Sunrise House. He’s so convinced that she’s been misdiagnosed that he keeps a log of her Alzheimer’s symptoms, hoping to disprove his parents’ conclusions. His preoccupation with his mother’s status even leads him to choose exploring her roots in East Berlin for a school history project despite the fact that his historian father’s books on the African-American experience would make researching that side of his family a snap. Meanwhile, in his persona as a gray elf treasure hunter/explorer named Severkin in the video game “Wellhall,” Nick encounters an older gray elf, Reunne, who he is convinced is his mother, trying to reveal to him the truth of her past and future. At the game’s memory wall Reunne declares: “This is my family, my history. This is everything I am.” Rosen adeptly explores memory and personal history as well as the loneliness of losing a parent, the complexity of biracial origins, and the metaphors of a quest and a divided city. While the story is occasionally heavy-handed and repetitious, readers—gamers and nongamers alike—will cheer the resolution of Nick’s transformative journey.

Thoughtful, earnest, and gratifying. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93323-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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