STEPPING ON THE CRACKS

It's late 1944; Margaret and friend Elizabeth, 12, are hoping that their brothers, who until recently were at the local high school, will be home from Europe for Christmas. Meanwhile, tracking their archenemy, bully Gordy, they discover that his older brother Stuart is hiding in the woods near their Maryland community of College "Hill" (a.k.a. Park). The girls are outraged because Stu is a deserter, but as they learn about his family's circumstances—his alcoholic father is violently abusive; thoughtful, scholarly Stu is a pacifist out of deep conviction—they gain sympathy for his stand. Gordy hasn't been able to bring Stu enough food, and, as winter deepens, he contracts pneumonia; reluctantly, Gordy accepts the girls' help, and they bring in another neighbor—a young war widow Stu's age—to get Stu desperately needed medical care. In the end, Stu is discovered because he chooses to confront his father in the hopes of saving the rest of his family. HIS father almost kills him; Margaret is left to make peace with her conventional parents, just when they are grieving for her brother, killed in action. Like Theresa Nelson's And One retail (1989), about the Vietnam era, Hahn's story re-creates the tensions and moral climate of its period in authentic detail. Subtly portraying the contrasting attitudes of several adults during a time when any "unpatriotic" thought was quickly condemned, she sets the stage for the girls' compassionate, unorthodox response to their moral dilemma. Suspenseful, carefully wrought, and thought-provoking—a fine achievement. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1991

ISBN: 0547076606

Page Count: 218

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1991

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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An outstanding new edition of this popular modern classic (Newbery Award, 1961), with an introduction by Zena Sutherland and...

ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS

Coming soon!!

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1990

ISBN: 0-395-53680-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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