A gritty but hopeful wartime thriller.

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HUNGER WINTER

A WWII NOVEL

Set in the Netherlands, 1944, this wartime drama opens with a “Bam! Bam! Bam!” on a farmhouse door.

Thirteen-year-old Dirk, alone with his little sister, Anna, is afraid it is the Gestapo. It is almost as bad: A neighbor tells him the Gestapo has picked up his older sister, Els, and will come for Dirk next. Dirk takes Anna and flees, knowing the Gestapo may imprison them or worse in their effort to smoke out Papa, a leader in the Dutch Resistance. Chapter-ending cliffhangers punctuate the children’s treacherous journey, which readers can trace on a frontmatter map. Even after arriving safely at Tante Cora’s home, the children must go out to obtain desperately needed food and are captured and imprisoned in a munitions factory. Their ordeals are interspersed with chapters focusing on Els’ suffering at the hands of the Gestapo. Dirk’s quick-thinking inventiveness and indulgence of Anna’s chirpy exhortations to pray keep the tale grounded in the children’s perspectives, and a light hand with gruesome details marks this for a middle-grade audience. Although the aid the children receive from a deserter from the German army feels like a contrivance—he knew their father in school—the episode illustrates that the neighboring countries had not always been enemies. The family’s reunion is an example of resilience despite the upheaval of war. Dirk and his family are white Christians; the Jewish experience is ancillary to the plot.

A gritty but hopeful wartime thriller. (maps, historical note, author Q&A, discussion questions, timeline) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4964-4034-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Tyndale House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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This 2015 New Visions Award winner offers a complex narrative and inspires readers to check their privilege to address...

AHIMSA

Although Kelkar’s debut novel takes place in colonial India in the 1940s, when Indian citizens were fighting for independence from British rule, it is uncannily timely: 10-year old Anjali grapples with issues of social justice in many of the same ways young people are today.

When Anjali’s mother quits her job to become a freedom fighter, Anjali is reluctant to join the struggle, as it means she will have to eschew her decorated skirts and wear home-spun khadi (hand-woven cotton) instead, inviting the mockery of her school nemeses. But as her relationship with her mother evolves, her experience of and commitment to activism change as well. When her mother is imprisoned and commences a hunger strike, Anjali continues her work and begins to unlearn her prejudices. According to an author’s note, Kelkar was inspired by the biography of her great-grandmother Anasuyabai Kale, and the tale is enriched by the author’s proximity to the subject matter and access to primary sources. Kelkar also complicates Western impressions of Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi—Anjali realizes that Gandhi is flawed—and introduces readers to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, a figure rarely mentioned in texts for young people in the United States but who is best known for campaigning against social discrimination of Dalits, or members of India’s lower castes.

This 2015 New Visions Award winner offers a complex narrative and inspires readers to check their privilege to address ongoing injustices. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62014-356-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Tu Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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