WRITTEN IN STONE

This vivid, character-driven historical novel captivates.

Five years after her mother and baby sister die in the 1918 flu pandemic, Pearl’s father is lost in the last Makah whale hunt.

Pearl, 13, is determined to create a future for herself that honors her distinguished heritage; still, her extended family’s unaccustomed financial hardship and loss of status stings. The New York collector interested in their masks and carvings might offer a way out, but does he have a secret agenda? Pearl’s loving extended family supports her (the Makah have no word for orphan), but her mother’s skill at weaving and the dances and teachings she’d have given Pearl are gone forever. For guidance, Pearl turns to independent Aunt Susi, who drives a car and works for the post office, and her grandmother, who encourages Pearl’s talent for language. “When you write a word down, you own that word forever,” she says. However, becoming an adult is fundamentally a solitary journey; shipwrecked on a wild beach, Pearl begins hers. Stubborn, determined and resourceful, she’s good company. Parry, who taught school on the Quinault Indian reservation (neighbors of the Makah), writes with respect and affection for the people of the Washington coast, suggesting without didacticism what their right to hunt whales means to the Makah people.

This vivid, character-driven historical novel captivates. (map, bibliography, glossary, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86971-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

STEALING HOME

An emotional, much-needed historical graphic novel.

Sandy and his family, Japanese Canadians, experience hatred and incarceration during World War II.

Sandy Saito loves baseball, and the Vancouver Asahi ballplayers are his heroes. But when they lose in the 1941 semifinals, Sandy’s dad calls it a bad omen. Sure enough, in December 1941, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor in the U.S. The Canadian government begins to ban Japanese people from certain areas, moving them to “dormitories” and setting a curfew. Sandy wants to spend time with his father, but as a doctor, his dad is busy, often sneaking out past curfew to work. One night Papa is taken to “where he [is] needed most,” and the family is forced into an internment camp. Life at the camp isn’t easy, and even with some of the Asahi players playing ball there, it just isn’t the same. Trying to understand and find joy again, Sandy struggles with his new reality and relationship with his father. Based on the true experiences of Japanese Canadians and the Vancouver Asahi team, this graphic novel is a glimpse of how their lives were affected by WWII. The end is a bit abrupt, but it’s still an inspiring and sweet look at how baseball helped them through hardship. The illustrations are all in a sepia tone, giving it an antique look and conveying the emotions and struggles. None of the illustrations of their experiences are overly graphic, making it a good introduction to this upsetting topic for middle-grade readers.

An emotional, much-needed historical graphic novel. (afterword, further resources) (Graphic historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0334-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven.

An aspiring scientist and a budding artist become friends and help each other with dream projects.

Unfolding in mid-1980s Sacramento, California, this story stars 12-year-olds Rosalind and Benjamin as first-person narrators in alternating chapters. Ro’s father, a fellow space buff, was killed by a drunk driver; the rocket they were working on together lies unfinished in her closet. As for Benji, not only has his best friend, Amir, moved away, but the comic book holding the clue for locating his dad is also missing. Along with their profound personal losses, the protagonists share a fixation with the universe’s intriguing potential: Ro decides to complete the rocket and hopes to launch mementos of her father into outer space while Benji’s conviction that aliens and UFOs are real compels his imagination and creativity as an artist. An accident in science class triggers a chain of events forcing Benji and Ro, who is new to the school, to interact and unintentionally learn each other’s secrets. They resolve to find Benji’s dad—a famous comic-book artist—and partner to finish Ro’s rocket for the science fair. Together, they overcome technical, scheduling, and geographical challenges. Readers will be drawn in by amusing and fantastical elements in the comic book theme, high emotional stakes that arouse sympathy, and well-drawn character development as the protagonists navigate life lessons around grief, patience, self-advocacy, and standing up for others. Ro is biracial (Chinese/White); Benji is White.

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-300888-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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