STAR OF STONE

CENTURY QUARTET, BOOK II

From the Century Quartet series , Vol. 2

In this sequel, the four children from the first book meet again in New York, two months after their Roman adventures (Ring of Fire, 2009). They are thrown into their search—this time for the Star of Stone—immediately after Elettra, Mistral and Sheng get off the plane in the United States, chaperoned by Elettra’s Aunt Linda. Together with Harvey, the children are in constant motion in this pell-mell, plot-driven story. The insert of full-color illustrations includes maps, copies of documents and photos of places and provides clues and concrete knowledge that supports the plot. Readers learn more about the lives of the four primary characters in this episode, while, as in the first book, most of the secondary characters—villains and guardian adults who include a Russian antiquarian and a group of Seneca tribesmen—are tools of the plot and rarely rise above genre stereotype. The back story is skillfully integrated, the plot is ultra-suspenseful, there is a budding romance and the ending is both exciting and satisfying. Message to the publisher: Bring on the next volume soon. (Adventure. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-375-85896-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2010

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A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe.

PRISONER B-3087

If Anne Frank had been a boy, this is the story her male counterpart might have told. At least, the very beginning of this historical novel reads as such.

It is 1939, and Yanek Gruener is a 10-year old Jew in Kraków when the Nazis invade Poland. His family is forced to live with multiple other families in a tiny apartment as his beloved neighborhood of Podgórze changes from haven to ghetto in a matter of weeks. Readers will be quickly drawn into this first-person account of dwindling freedoms, daily humiliations and heart-wrenching separations from loved ones. Yet as the story darkens, it begs the age-old question of when and how to introduce children to the extremes of human brutality. Based on the true story of the life of Jack Gruener, who remarkably survived not just one, but 10 different concentration camps, this is an extraordinary, memorable and hopeful saga told in unflinching prose. While Gratz’s words and early images are geared for young people, and are less gory than some accounts, Yanek’s later experiences bear a closer resemblance to Elie Wiesel’s Night than more middle-grade offerings, such as Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. It may well support classroom work with adult review first.

A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-45901-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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THE LIGHTNING THIEF

From the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series , Vol. 1

Edgar Award–winning Riordan leaves the adult world of mystery to begin a fantasy series for younger readers. Twelve-year-old Percy (full name, Perseus) Jackson has attended six schools in six years. Officially diagnosed with ADHD, his lack of self-control gets him in trouble again and again. What if it isn’t his fault? What if all the outrageous incidents that get him kicked out of school are the result of his being a “half-blood,” the product of a relationship between a human and a Greek god? Could it be true that his math teacher Mrs. Dodds transformed into a shriveled hag with bat wings, a Fury, and was trying to kill him? Did he really vanquish her with a pen that turned into a sword? One need not be an expert in Greek mythology to enjoy Percy’s journey to retrieve Zeus’s master bolt from the Underworld, but those who are familiar with the deities and demi-gods will have many an ah-ha moment. Along the way, Percy and his cohort run into Medusa, Cerberus and Pan, among others. The sardonic tone of the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7868-5629-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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