PLAY TO THE ANGEL

It is 1938 and Hitler’s plan to annihilate the Jews has just extended into Vienna. Twelve-year-old Greta Radky knows only one thing to be true in her life—she wants to become a concert pianist like her late brother, Kurt. To make ends meet on a dressmaker’s salary, however, isn’t easy, and it takes considerable acts of persuasion before Greta’s mother (Mutti) agrees not to sell their piano. When Herr Hummel, a reclusive pianist, moves into a nearby apartment, Greta’s uncommon talent comes to light and she’s given the opportunity to shine in a recital at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts. Greta often practices at his apartment so she can rehearse undisturbed. Wishing to repay him, Greta stashes money in a secret compartment within his desk, along with his passport, never knowing that one day both would be needed to save his life. When SS officers arrive to ransack his apartment, Hummel’s true identity is revealed as Karl von Engelhart, a world-renowned pianist who uses his fortune to help Jewish artists flee Germany. Greta lies to the SS officers regarding Hummel’s whereabouts, then brings her beloved teacher money and his passport to escape to Prague. Eventually, Greta and her mother must flee to Switzerland; having once worked for Jews, no one will purchase dresses from Mutti. Dahlberg has captured the fearful mood of Nazi terror in Austria; the reaction to Nazi propaganda by supposedly “decent” people will never be made palatable. The ugliness is laid bare: Greta’s music by Mendelssohn is ripped up by Nazis because the composer is Jewish. A Catholic friend is tortured just because her hair and eyes are dark. Nazi posters depicting hideous caricatures of dark, hook-nosed Jews are described. The blue angel that hangs above Engelhart’s window symbolizes a whole culture’s need for divine interception. Unforgettable writing from a first novelist. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-374-35994-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2000

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Japanese-American Aki and her family operate an asparagus farm in Westminster, Calif., until they are summarily uprooted and...

SYLVIA & AKI

Two third-grade girls in California suffer the dehumanizing effects of racial segregation after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1942 in this moving story based on true events in the lives of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu.

Japanese-American Aki and her family operate an asparagus farm in Westminster, Calif., until they are summarily uprooted and dispatched to an internment camp in Poston, Ariz., for the duration of World War II. As Aki endures the humiliation and deprivation of the hot, cramped barracks, she wonders if there’s “something wrong with being Japanese.” Sylvia’s Mexican-American family leases the Munemitsu farm. She expects to attend the local school but faces disappointment when authorities assign her to a separate, second-rate school for Mexican kids. In response, Sylvia’s father brings a legal action against the school district arguing against segregation in what eventually becomes a successful landmark case. Their lives intersect after Sylvia finds Aki’s doll, meets her in Poston and sends her letters. Working with material from interviews, Conkling alternates between Aki and Sylvia’s stories, telling them in the third person from the war’s start in 1942 through its end in 1945, with an epilogue updating Sylvia’s story to 1955.

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-337-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship.

LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

A young tennis champion becomes the target of revenge.

In this sequel to Legacy and the Queen (2019), Legacy Petrin and her friends Javi and Pippa have returned to Legacy’s home province and the orphanage run by her father. With her friends’ help, she is in training to defend her championship when they discover that another player, operating under the protection of High Consul Silla, is presenting herself as Legacy. She is so convincing that the real Legacy is accused of being an imitation. False Legacy has become a hero to the masses, further strengthening Silla’s hold, and it becomes imperative to uncover and defeat her. If Legacy is to win again, she must play her imposter while disguised as someone else. Winning at tennis is not just about money and fame, but resisting Silla’s plans to send more young people into brutal mines with little hope of better lives. Legacy will have to overcome her fears and find the magic that allowed her to claim victory in the past. This story, with its elements of sports, fantasy, and social consciousness that highlight tensions between the powerful and those they prey upon, successfully continues the series conceived by late basketball superstar Bryant. As before, the tennis matches are depicted with pace and spirit. Legacy and Javi have brown skin; most other characters default to White.

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949520-19-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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