Adventure, a horse, faithfulness and truth—an arresting combination.

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A HORSE CALLED HERO

A horse named Hero inspires his young owner to heroics in this suspenseful coming-of-age novel.

When British troops escape from Dunkirk, instead of coming home, the widowed father of Dodo and her 8-year-old brother, Wolfie, is listed as missing, and the children are evacuated to the countryside. When their father is found but court-martialed for desertion, the children console themselves by remembering his World War I cavalry heroics; the locals aren’t as forgiving, and the children take refuge with an eccentric clergyman and his adult daughter, who raises ponies. Wolfie’s discovery of an orphaned foal becomes a lifeline to his maligned father; he names it Hero, and the letters his father writes him about earning a horse’s trust become their primary relationship. The war years pass. Hero grows and is trained under saddle; he proves his worth in a desperate slog through bog lands that claims the life of Dodo’s horse. Then Hero disappears. Angus’ compelling writing and forceful plot mesh well to create a story that’s more thriller than historical fiction. The focus of the third-person narration shifts between Dodo and Wolfie, which causes some confusion, and Dodo’s character is not as well-drawn as Wolfie’s. Some of the wartime details aren’t quite right, but they don’t hinder the story and will likely pass unnoticed.

Adventure, a horse, faithfulness and truth—an arresting combination. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-04508-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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An outstanding new edition of this popular modern classic (Newbery Award, 1961), with an introduction by Zena Sutherland and...

ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS

Coming soon!!

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1990

ISBN: 0-395-53680-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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