WALK THE WILD ROAD

After he punches a nobleman’s deserving son, 11-year-old Leo must flee or face prison, so he takes to the road in a Poland being torn apart by the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Determined to make for the sea and find a way to America, he is joined by artful dodger Tomasz, a likable, streetwise 14-year-old on a quest of his own. Along the way, they encounter their share of misfortune as well as a series of adults, some kindly and helpful, others only interested in taking advantage of the youths. The sense of place and time is strongly conveyed, including poverty, brutal prejudice and an unfair class system. The two main characters are reasonably well developed, and the obstacles they face are never minimized in this coming-of-age tale. But sentence structure rarely varies, colorful imagery that would have lifted it to a higher level is lacking and the plot-driven narrative moves forward at a measured, too-predictable pace. These factors all conspire to keep this from rising above a crowded field. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4022-4377-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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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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