THE DOG IN THE WOOD

While a wealth of children’s books set during World War II focus on the Holocaust, Schröder brings some of Germany’s other young victims to light in her exceptional debut novel. Still coping with his soldier father’s death, ten-year-old Fritz keeps hearing that the “worst is over” and that peace is in sight. But when his Nazi sympathizer grandparents commit suicide before the Communist Russians invade his town, Russian military leaders set up office in his house, vindictive neighbors eject Fritz’s family from their beloved farm and his mother is falsely accused of a crime, the aspiring farmer can’t help but wonder when the worst will really end. Pocketed amid the death and destruction, a few caring individuals—from the family’s Polish farmhand who shows Fritz how to carve wood to smiling Russian soldiers who give him his first chocolate bar—help the boy discover the courage, hope and friendship needed to survive. Based on the author’s grandfather’s experiences, this poignant look at the effects of war and propaganda, especially on children, resonates with candor and eloquence. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59078-701-4

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Front Street/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2009

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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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