FIONA'S PRIVATE PAGES

If readers haven't yet met the main character, they'll clamor for Cruise's first novel about her after reading this engaging book, written in journal-entry style. The first book (The Top-Secret Journal of Fiona Claire Jardin\i>, 1998) told of Fiona's coming to grips with her parents' divorce. In the new one, 11-year-old Fiona navigates the just-as-tricky waters of friendship. Over the course of a full year, those waters are sometimes rough, sometimes smooth, but always interesting, as Fiona wonders—often hilariously—about what makes a friend, how to be one, how to keep one, when not to keep one, and whether a “B-O-Y” can make the grade. She's still dealing with her parents’ divorce, with their respective new relationships, and with younger brother Sam, but the thrust of the novel is the journey that bright, personable, capable, and precocious Fiona makes toward self-discovery. Readers will happily travel right along with her and are bound to pick up a pointer or two about their own friendships, including when it's okay to say no and still remain friends and how to assist a pal in need, as when Fiona is instrumental in getting much-needed help for an anorexic friend. This is a delightful, funny, sometimes poignant, on-target read. It's no wonder that Fiona's friends like her. So will kids. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-202210-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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