An unconventional narrator steals the show.

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WEERDEST DAY EVER!

From the Seven Prequels series , Vol. 3

A missing sword, a cow, a one-armed man, and a first crush all combine to make this camping trip the weerdest ever.

Brothers Bunny and Spencer accompany their grandfather to a re-enactment of the Battle of Beaver Dams from the War of 1812. Bunny, seeing the armies preparing for battle, mistakenly believes that a real war between Canada and the United States is imminent. When someone steals Tecumseth’s sword on the night before the battle, it is up to Bunny and his new friends, siblings Tyler and Beth, to find it. Without it, the leader of the First Nations confederacy will be unable to lead the Canadians to victory. Narrator Bunny’s learning disability means that his essay about the camping trip, which makes up the novel’s text, is full of misunderstandings and misspellings. However, his simple assessments of war, bullying, and controlling one’s emotions are wise. The white boy’s acceptance of diversity in others is equally noteworthy. He describes Beth as having “brown [skin] like wet toffee”; Tyler, who never speaks, is darker. When Beth, part Mohawk, calls herself an Indian, Bunny thinks to himself, “Indians are from India.…I didnt think Beth was from India but I wasnt going to tell her what she culd call herself.” American readers unfamiliar with this event in history will likely still be unclear after Bunny’s fractured retelling, but Bunny’s personality and voice will carry them along.

An unconventional narrator steals the show. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1155-3

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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...

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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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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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