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The world has no need of a Holocaust tale that presents Nazism as relatively benign.

An old-fashioned boys' adventure tale emerges from an almost unrecognizable retelling of a true Holocaust survival story.

Twelve-year-old Anton is a Jewish peasant in the Ukrainian village of Borshchiv. Anton's grandmother (evidently based on real-life heroine Esther Stermer, never named in the author's note) is sure the Nazis can't be trusted. In the dead of night, Anton and his family sneak away to hide in a nearby cave. Evil Gestapo officer Von Duesen is determined to make Borshchiv Judenfrei, completely free of Jews, and he's sure there's a Jewish family hiding around here somewhere. Von Duesen becomes increasingly unhinged throughout the year as Anton outwits him. He makes mean threats when Anton's grandmother spits in his face, and eventually he turns to murder, horrifying other Nazis by shooting some Jews in cold blood: " ‘Mein Gott, Herr Major...Was haben Sie getan?’ What have you done?" His Gestapo superiors even punish him for the murder, because of potential public relations damage. Of the historical and cultural inaccuracies permeating Anton's adventure, the most egregious is this portrayal of Nazis (who by 1943 in the real Borshchiv had shot or buried alive over 3,000 Jews, including one massacre of 1,800 that took three days, just months before Von Duesen's supposed crime).

The world has no need of a Holocaust tale that presents Nazism as relatively benign. (sources, author's note) (Historical fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-85782-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

Dizzyingly silly.

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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