HITLER’S CANARY

During WWII, the Danes, whose nation was occupied by the Germans, knew the British called them, “Hitler’s Canary.” “They say he has us in a cage and we just sit and sing any tune he wants.” But Denmark waged active underground opposition to the conquerors and saved most Jewish Danes from being taken into the concentration camps. Toksvig tells the story through the eyes and actions of Bamsie, ten years old when the story begins. He is the son of an actress, whose talent becomes an essential part of the plot. Because of the theatrical influence in his life, Hitler’s Canary is arranged as Act, Scene, Time, Date, Place, providing a guide from 1940 to 1943, the year the Jews escaped to Sweden. Characterization is good enough to make each person an individual, sometimes permitting “good” people to have faults. Details of setting and time are fascinating, and the action is suspenseful and riveting. Despite a few missteps (how would people who were rescuing Jews know what is and what is not a Jewish name, for instance?), Toksvig offers a spellbinding look at a part of history that is rarely fictionalized. Backmatter includes the facts of Danish resistance and Jewish rescue as well as further details on the fate of those involved. An author’s note explains what is true of her own family history retold in the story. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-59643-247-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2007

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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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