A superficial story that's mildly amusing but neither especially plausible nor deeply engaging.

RUBY REINVENTED

Ruby, 12-year-old daughter of a major league pitcher and a popular model-turned–television star who are plagued by paparazzi, discovers her California “friends” want only to gain access to her famous parents.

She decides on a major life change and enrolls in a Maine boarding school, where she immediately, unthinkingly lies upon arrival, claiming to be an orphan. That makes her seem like a soul mate to Connor (who is an orphan), to whom she's attracted—as is vindictive classmate Cassandra. A highly talented designer and seamstress, Ruby wins a campus contest and is chosen to present a fashion show of her work during parents' weekend. Much rings improbable, at best, in this frothy tale, including Ruby's ability to quickly turn out an array of fashion-forward clothing that exactly fits her friends and her loving parents' complete ignorance of her skill. When Ruby pulls out her credit card and charges $300 of magazines at a local newsstand so classmates won't see her photo in them, she risks losing readers’ sympathy. While Ruby's young teen voice rings true, neither the Maine setting nor the other saccharine-sweet characters are infused with much life. Only stock-character Cassandra distinguishes herself, albeit negatively. Awaiting the predictable reveal of Ruby's secret is more irritating then suspenseful.

A superficial story that's mildly amusing but neither especially plausible nor deeply engaging. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3757-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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Japanese-American Aki and her family operate an asparagus farm in Westminster, Calif., until they are summarily uprooted and...

SYLVIA & AKI

Two third-grade girls in California suffer the dehumanizing effects of racial segregation after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1942 in this moving story based on true events in the lives of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu.

Japanese-American Aki and her family operate an asparagus farm in Westminster, Calif., until they are summarily uprooted and dispatched to an internment camp in Poston, Ariz., for the duration of World War II. As Aki endures the humiliation and deprivation of the hot, cramped barracks, she wonders if there’s “something wrong with being Japanese.” Sylvia’s Mexican-American family leases the Munemitsu farm. She expects to attend the local school but faces disappointment when authorities assign her to a separate, second-rate school for Mexican kids. In response, Sylvia’s father brings a legal action against the school district arguing against segregation in what eventually becomes a successful landmark case. Their lives intersect after Sylvia finds Aki’s doll, meets her in Poston and sends her letters. Working with material from interviews, Conkling alternates between Aki and Sylvia’s stories, telling them in the third person from the war’s start in 1942 through its end in 1945, with an epilogue updating Sylvia’s story to 1955.

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-337-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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