Mostly perceptive and appealingly hopeful.

READ REVIEW

EXTRAORDINARY BIRDS

In her personal mythology she is a bird, but December begins to trust some of the humans around her.

Narrator December Lee Morgan is almost 12, solitary and a survivor, when she arrives at her latest foster home. The scars on her back—the result of an injury inflicted years ago by her mother, never fully detailed—become the place where December believes her wings will emerge when they are ready. Her new foster parent is a single woman, Eleanor, who builds houses and volunteers at a wildlife rehabilitation center. December carries two books with her everywhere: The Complete Guide to Birds, Volume One, and Bird Girl: An Extraordinary Tale. The first she has nearly memorized, and the second is her biography, a reminder to herself that she is really a bird and that her wings will open when she finds and leaps from the perfect flight tree. But Eleanor offers December something new: a respectful regard, perhaps from her understanding of wild animals. And December’s new schoolmate Cheryllyn is supportive and endlessly kind though herself bullied by girls who refuse to use her chosen name and refer to her by her former pronouns. December and Eleanor present white, and Cheryllyn, has skin “the color of paperbark maple.” Bird imagery and facts provide a subtle and graceful constant, and Stark-McGinnis’ prose is carefully crafted, direct, and convincing.

Mostly perceptive and appealingly hopeful. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0100-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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Writing with care to keep from too-explicit detail, Gemeinhart presents a rousingly riveting two-hanky read.

THE HONEST TRUTH

With only his faithful dog, Beau, for company, Mark, a boy with recurrent cancer, runs away from home to fulfil his dream of climbing Mount Rainier.

Told in alternating first-person voices, Gemeinhart’s heart-rending yet suspenseful novel tells the equally gripping stories of the boy who went to the mountain and the girl who stayed behind. In certain respects, the story of Mark’s best friend, Jessie, who spends the novel waiting, hoping and worrying, is the more morally complex of the two. Even though he’s only 12, Mark makes a personal decision that affects others but in the end is his choice. But Jessie is the keeper of the secret, a task that becomes harder and harder as Mark’s parents become increasingly frantic and a dangerous snowstorm approaches. Mark, who is plagued by headaches and nausea, must use every ounce of his courage and smarts to persevere. Along the way, he’s helped and hindered by various characters; the most poignant is a biologist who lost his son in Iraq, and the most fabulous is a dog loyal enough to give lessons to Lassie. An overexplanatory conclusion mars the story, though it’s still undeniably moving.

Writing with care to keep from too-explicit detail, Gemeinhart presents a rousingly riveting two-hanky read. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-66573-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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