A sports tale infused with moments of Christian prayer and frequent lessons in morality that never establishes itself as a...

SNAP DECISION

From the Game Face series , Vol. 1

Two teenage boys struggle to shine on their varsity football team even while their own friendship suffers after one of them is injured.

Archie F. Carr School is unusual in that it serves all students grades one through 12 in Lincoln, Fla. This means that the varsity football team is potentially open to even eighth-graders like Chase. He’s thrilled when he’s asked to start practicing with the varsity team and attend their games as a backup quarterback, but this realization of his dream doesn’t come without a price. His best friend, Tripp, suffers a head injury on the field, and when Chase tells the truth about the severity of the concussion, Tripp ends the friendship. Will their bond be strong enough to weather the rough patches? Whitaker’s (Uncommon Marriage, 2014, with Tony and Lauren Dungy, etc.) foray into middle-grade fiction never manages to break free of its flat tone. The characters, both children and adults, display a lack of energy, even on the football field. Their dialogue is stiff and monotonous. Emotional issues that deserve center stage—such as Chase’s fraught relationship with his dad and his sister’s recurring nightmare—are mostly ignored in favor of play-by-play accounts of football losses and wins.

A sports tale infused with moments of Christian prayer and frequent lessons in morality that never establishes itself as a realistic account of young teens, either on the field or off. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-310-73700-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

Did you like this book?

Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people.

GROUND ZERO

Parallel storylines take readers through the lives of two young people on Sept. 11 in 2001 and 2019.

In the contemporary timeline, Reshmina is an Afghan girl living in foothills near the Pakistan border that are a battleground between the Taliban and U.S. armed forces. She is keen to improve her English while her twin brother, Pasoon, is inspired by the Taliban and wants to avenge their older sister, killed by an American bomb on her wedding day. Reshmina helps a wounded American soldier, making her village a Taliban target. In 2001, Brandon Chavez is spending the day with his father, who works at the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World restaurant. Brandon is heading to the underground mall when a plane piloted by al-Qaida hits the tower, and his father is among those killed. The two storylines develop in parallel through alternating chapters. Gratz’s deeply moving writing paints vivid images of the loss and fear of those who lived through the trauma of 9/11. However, this nuance doesn’t extend to the Afghan characters; Reshmina and Pasoon feel one-dimensional. Descriptions of the Taliban’s Afghan victims and Reshmina's gentle father notwithstanding, references to all young men eventually joining the Taliban and Pasoon's zeal for their cause counteract this messaging. Explanations for the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan in the author’s note and in characters’ conversations too simplistically present the U.S. presence.

Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-24575-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more