Strong characters grapple with a multitude of issues (a few too many) in this celebration of friendship and the rewards of...

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THE PERFECT SECRET

From the Perfect Score series , Vol. 2

Are there secrets that shouldn’t be revealed?

In this sequel to The Perfect Score (2017), Randi, Natalie, Gavin, Trevor, and Scott are assigned community service for cheating on a standardized test. It’s not really a punishment, as these good-natured students enjoy working in the senior center where they’ve established relationships, and besides, they want to reconcile two of their teachers, a mother and daughter, before it’s too late. As before, narration alternates among the five, and while their characters are well-developed, the various issues are examined lightly. In this case, many are related to secrecy, from budding romance to absentee fathers, familial estrangement, parental marital problems, financial struggle, Alzheimer’s, brain injury, adult illiteracy, immigration, and racism. The last three revolve around Gavin, whose Mexican-immigrant mother is undocumented and who becomes the target of the racist football coach. Aside from biracial Gavin and his mother, the book adheres to the white default. Though handled with kindness and compassion, the sheer abundance of topics results in oversimplification, and every story has a pat ending, which, cumulatively, seems unlikely. Still, the characters shine, the plots are engaging, and the issues are addressed in interesting ways that will provide readers with many perspectives and much to consider.

Strong characters grapple with a multitude of issues (a few too many) in this celebration of friendship and the rewards of volunteer work. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6459-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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