The creators of Bridges Are to Cross (1998) tour places where adherents of five religions (Judaism is split into pre- and post-Mosaic, with the former also linked to Islam) worship: churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, shrines, even a river. Laroche depicts the 28 sites in elaborate, finely detailed low-relief paper collages; some, such as India’s Shri Meenakshi Amman Temple, dizzying whirls of towers and ornaments, others—the Wailing Wall, New Hampshire’s Henniker Friends Meeting House—plain and functional. People are visible in nearly all, showing scale and also reminding viewers that sacred places, grand or not, are integral parts of every community. Sturges’s poetic text, which runs in large type above descriptive paragraphs for each picture, carries the same message. It’s a quick trip, providing only glimpses of our array of belief systems and religious practices, but it’s as much a reverent spiritual journey as a world-spanning physical one, and the art both invites and rewards long, careful looking as it is truly awe-inspiring. (map, notes on religions) (Nonfiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-399-23317-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2000

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A tender, honest, and beautifully written story about family, faith, and friendship.


Louisa Emerson copes with the sadness and stress of her alcoholic dad, remarried mom, new stepdad, and a move to the suburbs.

Fifth grader Lou loves her small apartment in San Francisco; her mom; her 15-year-old sister, Casey; her BFF, Beth; sad books; and, despite the pain and uncertainty he causes, her usually drunk dad. Lou’s life is being uprooted, however, because Mom is marrying oversolicitous Steve, a man from church who proposed after only three dates. Since Steve lives in his large childhood home in Pacifica—and Lou’s family is barely getting by financially in the city—they are moving in with Steve, and only Mom and Steve seem happy about that. On her 11th birthday, Lou anonymously receives a guitar that she believes is from her dad. After the Emerson girls move, Lou befriends Marcus and Shannon, a charming couple with three young kids who live on Steve’s block. They quickly become the sisters’ trusted adults, and Marcus gives Lou guitar lessons. In her middle-grade debut, noted YA author Zarr writes exactly the sort of kid Lou herself favors: one that thoughtfully tackles tough issues like substance abuse, parental abandonment, the difficulties of change, and blended families. The story also features church and Christian themes in a refreshingly positive and affirming way. Lou’s family is White; supporting characters include Chinese American Beth and Filipino American Marcus.

A tender, honest, and beautifully written story about family, faith, and friendship. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-304492-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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Provocative yet cautious.


A community transformed by swastikas, and the response.

Chokecherry, Colorado, is a small town with a lot going on. A group of paleontologists from Massachusetts have set up a research station after fossilized dinosaur poop is discovered in the area. Some residents still whisper about the Night of a Thousand Flames in 1978, when Ku Klux Klan members flocked to the area and burned crosses. And the local media is sent into an uproar when Michael Amorosa, a Dominican boy and one of the few students of color, discovers a swastika painted on a wall at Chokecherry Middle School. Told in alternating perspectives, the story follows the students as they embark on a lengthy tolerance-building curriculum, come up with an art project to commemorate Jewish victims of the Holocaust, deal with an out-of-town YouTuber who wants to go viral with his commentary on the story, and learn more about themselves and their family histories. The only Jewish girl, Dana Levinson, helps Lincoln Rowley study for his bar mitzvah after he learns that his maternal grandmother, rescued and raised by nuns as a Christian, was the sole member of her family to survive the Holocaust. While the story is engaging, with many twists and turns, the different voices blend together, and emotional depth takes a back seat to educational goals. There’s a lot to ponder here about mistakes, intention, the difference between ignorance and hatred, and religious identity.

Provocative yet cautious. (author's note) (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-62911-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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