An introduction that might tempt readers to explore Poe’s own nightmares.

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ROOM OF SHADOWS

What kind of horror might Edgar Allan Poe perpetrate in today’s world?

Angry at the way his life changed after his father left, eighth-grader David Cray beats up a bully in his new school and then retreats to a secret room in the old house in downtown Baltimore his mother has rented. There, unknowingly, he awakens Poe’s spirit, who feeds on David’s rage to re-enact dreadful details of the 19th-century author’s most famous stories. For much of this suspenseful tale it’s not clear who’s responsible for the horrific events: a classmate mummified and nearly killed by a ceiling fan; a dead cat found in a locker; a swinging scythe that threatens another bound classmate. The police and even his mother suspect it might be David. Luckily, new friend Libby Morales (cued as Latina with her name but otherwise culturally indistinct) thinks better of him and works with him to solve the mystery. David’s first-person narrative is presented in short, fast-paced chapters, with occasional commentary from Poe himself. Kidd makes use of authentic setting details—the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Poe’s elaborate grave, and crab cakes from the Lexington Market—but seems to ignore the most salient one: David would probably have been the only white student in his school. A concluding author’s note explains that this is a “dream Baltimore,” where Poe gets the death he deserves.

An introduction that might tempt readers to explore Poe’s own nightmares. (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6805-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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...

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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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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