One could wish all war stories were genuine fantasies.


A living, speaking doll; magical and folkloric elements; and Nazi terror meld in this novel set in World War II Krakow, Poland.

Karolina is blown by a magical wind from the war-torn Land of the Dolls into the shop and life of Cyryl, the white Dollmaker of Krakow, a lonely, skilled craftsman with magical abilities. Astounded to encounter the enchanting wooden creature, he repairs her and learns of her travails: her homeland, like his, has been ravaged by war and taken over by dictatorial rats who’ve conquered her country and savaged the population. They become steadfast comrades and soon befriend Jewish neighbors, a violinist and his daughter who are increasingly threatened by the worsening Nazi menace. With the situation in Krakow worsening, the Dollmaker and Karolina become ever more desperate. Inspired by Karolina’s ingenious idea, Cyryl magically effects an astonishing transformation of Krakow’s children, enabling them to be smuggled out of the ghetto. It’s an odd tale. Readers expecting the fantastic and magical elements to soften the terrifying depictions of Nazi brutality will be disillusioned: horrors are described, and death pervades the narrative. While Karolina and the non-Nazi human protagonists are sympathetic, the disparate threads don’t jell. Worse, combining a very realistic war story with a fairy-tale one may, unfortunately, suggest to some readers that the nonfiction component isn’t real either.

One could wish all war stories were genuine fantasies. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1539-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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...


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 worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship.


From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

A young tennis champion becomes the target of revenge.

In this sequel to Legacy and the Queen (2019), Legacy Petrin and her friends Javi and Pippa have returned to Legacy’s home province and the orphanage run by her father. With her friends’ help, she is in training to defend her championship when they discover that another player, operating under the protection of High Consul Silla, is presenting herself as Legacy. She is so convincing that the real Legacy is accused of being an imitation. False Legacy has become a hero to the masses, further strengthening Silla’s hold, and it becomes imperative to uncover and defeat her. If Legacy is to win again, she must play her imposter while disguised as someone else. Winning at tennis is not just about money and fame, but resisting Silla’s plans to send more young people into brutal mines with little hope of better lives. Legacy will have to overcome her fears and find the magic that allowed her to claim victory in the past. This story, with its elements of sports, fantasy, and social consciousness that highlight tensions between the powerful and those they prey upon, successfully continues the series conceived by late basketball superstar Bryant. As before, the tennis matches are depicted with pace and spirit. Legacy and Javi have brown skin; most other characters default to White.

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949520-19-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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