This brief sojourn in an alternative 18th-century France is an unexpectedly rich one.

NEVERS

In the chaotic countryside of post-Revolutionary France, Odette and her flighty mother, always on the move, try to make a home in the town of Nevers.

Fourteen-year-old Odette’s always had to care for her mother, Anneline, who is gorgeous, selfish, and accident prone. When people in Anneline’s vicinity (usually one of the many husbands she’s had) end up dead, it always is, truly, completely by chance. Yet after each such incident, Anneline and Odette take to the roads seeking safety. In Nevers, Odette scrubs and gardens, cooks and schemes, crossing her fingers that maybe this time they’ll find stability. Though she keeps to herself, Odette’s drawn to the fascinating sights of Nevers, and readers will be as well. There’s M. Mains, a former scholar who smells people’s hands to learn about them, Mme. Genevieve the inventor, and M. Gustave, their landlord, who secretly wishes he were a chicken. There’s a piglet and a new-hatched chick who are BFFs and a donkey who brays in Latin that only Odette hears. And best of all, there’s Nicois, who rapidly becomes like the brother she’s never had. Together, dark-skinned Nicois and light-skinned Odette try to solve a puzzle that might connect Odette’s history to secrets here in Nevers. Gay and intersex representation fits smoothly into the historical setting, meshing neatly and naturally with these charmingly odd characters living their everyday lives in the aftermath of massive social upheaval.

This brief sojourn in an alternative 18th-century France is an unexpectedly rich one. (historical note) (Historical fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2163-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Japanese-American Aki and her family operate an asparagus farm in Westminster, Calif., until they are summarily uprooted and...

SYLVIA & AKI

Two third-grade girls in California suffer the dehumanizing effects of racial segregation after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1942 in this moving story based on true events in the lives of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu.

Japanese-American Aki and her family operate an asparagus farm in Westminster, Calif., until they are summarily uprooted and dispatched to an internment camp in Poston, Ariz., for the duration of World War II. As Aki endures the humiliation and deprivation of the hot, cramped barracks, she wonders if there’s “something wrong with being Japanese.” Sylvia’s Mexican-American family leases the Munemitsu farm. She expects to attend the local school but faces disappointment when authorities assign her to a separate, second-rate school for Mexican kids. In response, Sylvia’s father brings a legal action against the school district arguing against segregation in what eventually becomes a successful landmark case. Their lives intersect after Sylvia finds Aki’s doll, meets her in Poston and sends her letters. Working with material from interviews, Conkling alternates between Aki and Sylvia’s stories, telling them in the third person from the war’s start in 1942 through its end in 1945, with an epilogue updating Sylvia’s story to 1955.

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-337-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

THE CONSPIRACY

From the Plot to Kill Hitler series , Vol. 1

Near the end of World War II, two kids join their parents in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

Max, 12, lives with his parents and his older sister in a Berlin that’s under constant air bombardment. During one such raid, a mortally wounded man stumbles into the white German family’s home and gasps out his last wish: “The Führer must die.” With this nighttime visitation, Max and Gerta discover their parents have been part of a resistance cell, and the siblings want in. They meet a colorful band of upper-class types who seem almost too whimsical to be serious. Despite her charming levity, Prussian aristocrat and cell leader Frau Becker is grimly aware of the stakes. She enlists Max and Gerta as couriers who sneak forged identification papers to Jews in hiding. Max and Gerta are merely (and realistically) cogs in the adults’ plans, but there’s plenty of room for their own heroism. They escape capture, rescue each other when they’re caught out during an air raid, and willingly put themselves repeatedly at risk to catch a spy. The fictional plotters—based on a mix of several real anti-Hitler resistance cells—are portrayed with a genuine humor, giving them the space to feel alive even in such a slim volume.

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35902-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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