Deeply emotional, intense, and thought-provoking.

VILLAGE OF SCOUNDRELS

The inhabitants of a village in the mountains of Vichy France quietly carry out clandestine activities as they rescue and hide Jews.

Adults, teens, and even younger children work independently and in carefully constructed networks of established residents and Jewish refugees. “Everyone in this town had secrets.” Refugees are hidden on outlying farms. Youngsters attend school and live in boardinghouses. All are given beautifully forged identification papers, many made by Jean-Paul, who has forged several versions of his own papers. Some have joined the Maquis, disguised as Boy Scouts. Céleste conveys secret messages; Philippe leads refugees to safe houses and to the Swiss border while others create diversions that lead authorities astray. Ten-year-old Jules notices and remembers everything. He maintains an odd, provocative relationship with the French policeman Perdant, openly questioning him about the morality of his insistence on following the orders and laws of the Nazi overseers. The knowledge he gains allows him to provide the others with key information, warnings, and time to get to safety. Each character’s backstory is woven seamlessly into the action. Preus builds suspense and drama by following these brave souls as they take on dangerous tasks, facing arrest, deportation, and, very likely, death if they are caught by the Nazis. Named as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, these characters are based on real people from the village of Le Chambon sur Lignon, and Preus tells their afterstories in a well-researched, comprehensive epilogue.

Deeply emotional, intense, and thought-provoking. (pronunciation guide, list of characters, photos, documents, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0897-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A riveting, not-to-be-missed trilogy opener that will leave readers invested in what is to come.

THE DOOR OF NO RETURN

A boy’s life is turned upside down following a wrestling match in West Africa’s Asante Kingdom in 1860.

Eleven-year-old Kofi Offin loves his family, admires his friend Ama, and tries to avoid his bully of a cousin. Kofi’s teacher, Mr. Goodluck Phillip, who canes him for speaking Twi, is convinced the students must learn the Queen’s English, but Kofi prefers the stories of Nana Mosi, his grandfather and the village storyteller. The place he truly feels at home is the river, where he practices swimming and dreams of defeating his cousin in a race. But before that can happen, all attention turns to the Kings Festival, which features highly anticipated wrestling contests against representatives from their rival village. This year, Kofi’s older brother, Kwasi, has been chosen to compete. During the match, Kwasi accidentally kills Prince Yaw Boateng, his opponent and the nephew of the King of Lower Kwanta, changing the direction of their lives when the king retaliates. The immediacy of this verse novel places readers alongside Kofi, thriving as a young boy surrounded by family love and legacy before being abruptly snatched from all he has known. Alexander’s rich language is lyrical and haunting as the water, long a source of comfort for Kofi, becomes full of uncertainty and danger.

A riveting, not-to-be-missed trilogy opener that will leave readers invested in what is to come. (glossary) (Verse historical fiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-44186-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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