Spunky! (Historical fiction. 9-12)

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EMILY AND JACKSON HIDING OUT

Emily and Jackson try to escape the baddies in this never-too-serious comedy-drama.

Back in the 19th century, Emily and her friend Jackson live happily with Aunt Hilda on her farm somewhere in the West. However, dangers from the previous book (Emily's Fortune, 2010) still lurk, and amid play, pranks and chores, readers know that danger will return. The $10 million Emily has inherited doesn’t affect their lives much because they’re already happy, but it sure attracts bad guys! The two orphans still must escape the dastardly child catchers who want to take Jackson to work in a mill. Then someone suspicious shows up when Aunt Hilda goes away to town, and the two friends find themselves kidnapped. Oh no! How will clever Jackson, not to mention their intrepid dog, Spook, find a way to escape and save Emily? As before, Naylor stuffs her short chapters with fun, ending each with an alliterative phrase, always in huge typeface that takes up half the page, such as “And what in gigglin’ goblins do you think they saw?” It’s a wonderful device to keep children laughing and reading. The suspense is never too threatening and always has a bit of humor involved, yet it's still scary enough to keep readers turning pages. The author makes the resolution delightful and easy, while Emily and Jackson keep readers smiling. The whimsical line drawings by Collins greatly add to the sweet atmosphere.

Spunky! (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-74097-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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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

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A richly atmospheric page-turner—readers will eagerly anticipate the forthcoming sequel.

THE CLOCKWORK CROW

Young Seren Rhys stands on the cusp of a new life. Unfortunately for her, the train to her new life is late.

Following the death of her aunt, who saved her from her 12-year stay at the orphanage, she receives word that her godfather, Capt. Arthur Jones, will take her in. Seren spends her wait dreaming of the Jones family and their surely bustling, welcoming manor, Plas-y-Fran in Wales. An encounter with a mysterious man and his more mysterious wrapped parcel (containing the eponymous mechanical bird) leaves Seren reeling, and the mysteries multiply when she arrives at Plas-y-Fran. The place is shuttered and cold, nearly deserted but for a few fearful, oppressively unforthcoming servants. The captain and his wife are away; of their young son, Tomos, there is neither sign nor sound. With the Crow as her only, if reluctant, ally, Seren soon finds herself enmeshed in mayhem and magic that may prove lethal. In her characteristic style, Fisher crafts an elaborate fantasy from deceptively simple language. Seren is a sharp, saucy narrator whose constant puzzlement at others’ consternation over her impertinence provides running amusement. Supporting characters are fascinating if ambiguous players, not so much poorly drawn as poorly revealed, perhaps casualties of the quick pace. The deadened manor, however, provides the perfect backdrop for preternatural forces. Characters are presumed white.

A richly atmospheric page-turner—readers will eagerly anticipate the forthcoming sequel. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1491-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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