Both gripping and lyrical—a fine time-travel tale.


After time traveling to the Bronze Age, a girl must save a community and her brother in this debut middle-grade novel.

The family farm in Wiltshire, England, where 12-year-old Lizzie Greenwood lives, stands close to the remains of an ancient stone circle called the Bull Stones. Her brother, Daniel, 14, is fascinated by the circle and a nearby Bronze Age site being excavated by archaeologists. As the two investigate the area on a winter solstice evening, they’re charged by a herd of eerie bulls. Lizzie and Daniel flee between the stones—and find themselves in broad summer daylight some 3,000 years ago near a village of roundhouses. The siblings learn that the villagers are called the Horse People, and their enemy is the Bullmaster, who kills women and children and steals men’s souls for his slave army. The Horse People’s queen could stop him, but she’s been mortally wounded by a bull. When the Bullmaster seizes Daniel, Lizzie realizes she must use the stones to prevent disaster by traveling back and forth through time. Time travel is a compelling theme, and Kay handles it well in her book. Lizzie’s trips through the stones make storytelling sense, as when she gets penicillin—used on her family’s farm to treat animals—to save the queen. Lizzie herself is brave and appealingly thoughtful as she wrestles with the question of whom to trust. Her special connection to the stones helps explain her ability to understand and speak the ancient language, often a sticking point in time-travel stories (although the supposedly Bronze Age tongue is closer to Chaucer’s Middle English). Kay’s writing is another pleasure, atmospheric and poetic even when describing small details: “Sheep’s wool straggles of smoke clinging to the air.” The black-and-white illustrations by debut artist Rothaus are skillfully shaded and composed, adding to the book’s sense of mystery.

Both gripping and lyrical—a fine time-travel tale.

Pub Date: March 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-910237-58-8

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Hayloft Publishing Ltd

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people.


Parallel storylines take readers through the lives of two young people on Sept. 11 in 2001 and 2019.

In the contemporary timeline, Reshmina is an Afghan girl living in foothills near the Pakistan border that are a battleground between the Taliban and U.S. armed forces. She is keen to improve her English while her twin brother, Pasoon, is inspired by the Taliban and wants to avenge their older sister, killed by an American bomb on her wedding day. Reshmina helps a wounded American soldier, making her village a Taliban target. In 2001, Brandon Chavez is spending the day with his father, who works at the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World restaurant. Brandon is heading to the underground mall when a plane piloted by al-Qaida hits the tower, and his father is among those killed. The two storylines develop in parallel through alternating chapters. Gratz’s deeply moving writing paints vivid images of the loss and fear of those who lived through the trauma of 9/11. However, this nuance doesn’t extend to the Afghan characters; Reshmina and Pasoon feel one-dimensional. Descriptions of the Taliban’s Afghan victims and Reshmina's gentle father notwithstanding, references to all young men eventually joining the Taliban and Pasoon's zeal for their cause counteract this messaging. Explanations for the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan in the author’s note and in characters’ conversations too simplistically present the U.S. presence.

Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-24575-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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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...


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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