The readable style capably delivers a history lesson likely unfamiliar to young readers.

THE VOICE OF THUNDER

A historical novel for young readers about a girl during Israel’s Six Day War.

Like Mira, the novel’s protagonist, Breen (There’s a Turkey at the Door?, 2011) was a fifth grader in Israel during the Six Day War in 1967. As Breen explains in her author’s note, her own experiences and research were used in writing Mira’s story. With her country on the brink of war, Mira is concerned with ordinary things like homework and the loyalty of her best friend, Gili. Mira has bigger concerns, too. Her father left, and she doesn’t know when or if he will return to live with her and her mother. Mira and Gili defy their parents’ orders and listen to a propaganda radio station that broadcasts out of Cairo. The Voice of Thunder station lends its name to the title of the book and unnerves the two girls with its endless threats. When bombs begin to fall in Israel, the girls must make a harrowing escape from school. Later, after they’ve made it home, they take shelter in the basement with the rest of the residents of their apartment building. There, several days later, they learn via the radio of the reopening of the Western Wall to the people of Israel; on the following Sabbath, Miri and Gili travel to the wall with Gili’s parents and Mira’s father. Breen adeptly juxtaposes the ordinary events of day-to-day life with the more dramatic events of a country on the brink of—and later entering—war. Told in the third person, the novel follows Miri’s story from a somewhat distant remove, though her occasional diary entries help show her own perspective. The language is suitable for elementary school readers, with unfamiliar terms and Hebrew words defined within the text. Though the narrative often attempts to give the dialogue a natural feel, sometimes the efforts to mimic human speech make for awkward reading; for instance, Mira says, “You can’t save—fix the whole world,” and later, she asks, “Just wondering how come, well—why didn’t you ask that there be no war?”

The readable style capably delivers a history lesson likely unfamiliar to young readers.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-1937178178

Page Count: 118

Publisher: WiDo Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2013

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HOMELESS BIRD

1893

Pub Date: March 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-028454-4

Page Count: 250

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1999

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THE JOURNAL OF SEAN SULLIVAN

A TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD WORKER

In the My Name Is America series, Durbin (Wintering, 1999, etc.) offers the story of Sean Sullivan, whose first day in Omaha, Nebraska, brings him face to face with a victim of an Indian attack; the man survived, but carries his bloody scalp in a bucket. It’s August 1897, and Sean has just arrived from Chicago, planning to work with his father on the Intercontinental Railroad. Pa, who carries terrible memories of his stint in the Civil War and of the death three years ago of Sean’s mother, is already a foreman for the railroad, but Sean must start at the bottom, as a water carrier, toting barrels of it to the thirsty men who are doing the back-breaking work on the line. At night, everyone is usually too tired to do anything but sleep, but Sundays are free, and Sean discovers the rough and rowdy world of the towns that seem to sprout up from nowhere along the railroad’s path over the prairie. Through Sean’s eyes, the history of this era and the magnitude of his and his fellow workers’ achievements come alive; Durbin has no trouble making Sean’s world palpable, and readers will slog along with Sean every step of the way on his long and arduous journey to building a railroad and becoming a man. (b&w maps, photos, reproductions) (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-439-04994-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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