An important and relevant story that will make kids stop and take a look at the world around them.

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MY YEAR IN THE MIDDLE

It is spring 1970 in Alabama, and in spite of the racial tensions that come along with integration and the upcoming race for governor, sixth-grader Lu Olivera can’t stop thinking about running—or more importantly, the discovery that she can run.

It’s hotter than Hades the day Lu first runs in preparation for Field Day. She flies “like the blue blazes” and barely squeaks past classmate Belinda at the finish line for the win. As they mill about catching their breath and each other’s eyes, Belinda gives a nod of respect. Lu nods back, but not without a bit of trepidation upon reminding herself that “around here, black and white kids don’t mix. No siree bob.” You see, being from Argentina, Lu is one of the “middle” kids in the class. White kids sit on one side of the room, black kids, including Belinda, on the other, and those that are left occupy no man’s land. Readers will follow Lu through the spring of her sixth-grade year as she discovers not just the extent of her running ability, but how much gumption one tiny immigrant girl can have. It’s not always easy standing up for what is right, but sometimes, you just can’t stay in the middle. While Red Grove, Alabama, is a fictional town, the story is inspired by the author’s very real experiences growing up in Alabama. Young readers will relate to Lu as she navigates friendships, first love, and politics, cheering her on to the finish line.

An important and relevant story that will make kids stop and take a look at the world around them. (Historical fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9231-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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...

NUMBER THE STARS

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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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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