GULF

A savage tale of a psychic child witnessing the terrors of the Gulf War through the eyes of Latif, a 13-year-old Iraqi soldier. Narrator Tom's younger brother, Andrew, has always had vivid ``dreams,'' sometimes fun and splendid, sometimes discomfiting—but since the invasion of Kuwait, his whole pattern of behavior has changed: At night he scratches at nonexistent lice, mutters triumphantly in an unknown language and behaves as if he were in a camp, surrounded by comrades. Soon Andrew's personality becomes totally subsumed by Latif's, and the boy is hospitalized. Tension mounts as the land war begins in Iraq; in a horrifying climax, Tom sees Andrew/Latif bombed, burned, and machine-gunned (all conveyed by his realistic reactions to his phantom environment). Andrew returns physically unharmed, but no longer the dreamy, sensitive child he was. Westall (Falling into Glory, p. 563, etc.) mordantly contrasts not only the fearful but proud Latif's view of the war with the impersonal, nearly bloodless version seen on TV, but also each side's affirmations of legitimacy and different perspectives on the war's causes. The result is an antiwar statement every bit as harrowing and furious as Peter Dickinson's AK (1992), at a third of the length. (glossary) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-590-22218-X

Page Count: 101

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1995

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An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood.

REBOUND

In this prequel to Newbery Award–winning The Crossover (2014), Alexander revisits previous themes and formats while exploring new ones.

For Charlie Bell, the future father of The Crossover’s Jordan and Josh, his father’s death alters his relationship with his mother and causes him to avoid what reminds him of his dad. At first, he’s just withdrawn, but after he steals from a neighbor, his mother packs a reluctant Charlie off to his grandparents near Washington, D.C., for the summer. His grandfather works part-time at a Boys and Girls Club where his cousin Roxie is a star basketball player. Despite his protests, she draws him into the game. His time with his grandparents deepens Charlie’s understanding of his father, and he begins to heal. “I feel / a little more normal, / like maybe he’s still here, / … in a / as long as I remember him / he’s still right here / in my heart / kind of way.” Once again, Alexander has given readers an African-American protagonist to cheer. He is surrounded by a strong supporting cast, especially two brilliant female characters, his friend CJ and his cousin Roxie, as well as his feisty and wise granddaddy. Music and cultural references from the late 1980s add authenticity. The novel in verse is enhanced by Anyabwile’s art, which reinforces Charlie’s love for comics.

An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood. (Historical verse fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-86813-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

THE CONSPIRACY

From the Plot to Kill Hitler series , Vol. 1

Near the end of World War II, two kids join their parents in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

Max, 12, lives with his parents and his older sister in a Berlin that’s under constant air bombardment. During one such raid, a mortally wounded man stumbles into the white German family’s home and gasps out his last wish: “The Führer must die.” With this nighttime visitation, Max and Gerta discover their parents have been part of a resistance cell, and the siblings want in. They meet a colorful band of upper-class types who seem almost too whimsical to be serious. Despite her charming levity, Prussian aristocrat and cell leader Frau Becker is grimly aware of the stakes. She enlists Max and Gerta as couriers who sneak forged identification papers to Jews in hiding. Max and Gerta are merely (and realistically) cogs in the adults’ plans, but there’s plenty of room for their own heroism. They escape capture, rescue each other when they’re caught out during an air raid, and willingly put themselves repeatedly at risk to catch a spy. The fictional plotters—based on a mix of several real anti-Hitler resistance cells—are portrayed with a genuine humor, giving them the space to feel alive even in such a slim volume.

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35902-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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