Nevertheless, this book gives middle-grade readers a starting point for understanding this landmark episode in American...

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AFRICA IS MY HOME

A CHILD OF THE AMISTAD

In this text-heavy picture book, Edinger fictionalizes the story of Margru, a child whom slave traders transported in 1839 from Mendeland, West Africa, to Cuba and then to the United States on the Spanish slave ship the Amistad.

Margru’s father pawns his daughter at 9 in exchange for rice. When he is unable to redeem her, she is sold off to traders and forced to endure the Middle Passage. The child narrator effectively conveys her confusion at being treated savagely by people whose language and intentions she does not understand, as well as the meager comfort she finds in her two friends, Kagne and Teme, who are purchased along with her in Cuba. Throughout the story, Margru’s dreams of home appear within round frames, thick with the flora and fauna of Africa. Edinger and Byrd punctuate the story with reproductions and snippets from archives, newspaper clippings, maps, letters and engravings—all of which reinforce its authenticity. While this book makes an important part of history accessible to child readers, it is not without flaws. Its illustrations are frequently cramped and offer minimal variety in the characters’ skin tones and facial features. The narrative occasionally skips weeks or months without alerting readers, making parts of the story befuddling.

Nevertheless, this book gives middle-grade readers a starting point for understanding this landmark episode in American history, in which slaves fought through the court system and won. (author’s note, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5038-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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