BEYOND LUCKY

A tense, superstitious, hardworking boy learns that luck is generated from the inside out. 

Ari Fish, 12, the younger son in a supportive but educationally ambitious family, is obsessed with soccer and luck. Before he plays a game, he goes through a series of obsessive rituals designed to maximize his good fortune. His best friend, Jerry Mac MacDonald, is cut from a different cloth entirely. The son of an indifferent single mother and unknown father, Mac, who is their team captain, social top-dog and star player, is loosey-goosey cool, a bundle of pure natural talent. Mac and Ari’s friendship is tested when a girl, Parker Llewellyn, the daughter of a hard-driving soccer dad, makes it onto the team. In addition to sexism, this event brings out other themes, including the value of preparation and the importance of putting your team first. After an overlong set-up, matters are brought to a head when Ari’s lucky soccer card disappears from his backpack. Mac and Parker each accuse the other of stealing it, dividing Ari’s loyalties and putting him in a tough social and ethical position. It’s a credible middle-grade dilemma, but Aronson couples it with some unnecessary drama involving Ari’s firefighter brother. The play-by-play sports action is nicely integrated, though, and it enhances the plotline. The novel ends on a high though bittersweet note; the right thing won’t please everyone.   Solid.  (Fiction. 8-12)

 

Pub Date: June 30, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3520-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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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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Funny and endearing, though incomplete characterizations provoke questions.

THE UNTEACHABLES

An isolated class of misfits and a teacher on the edge of retirement are paired together for a year of (supposed) failure.

Zachary Kermit, a 55-year-old teacher, has been haunted for the last 27 years by a student cheating scandal that has earned him the derision of his colleagues and killed his teaching spirit. So when he is assigned to teach the Self-Contained Special Eighth-Grade Class—a dumping ground for “the Unteachables,” students with “behavior issues, learning problems, juvenile delinquents”—he is unfazed, as he is only a year away from early retirement. His relationship with his seven students—diverse in temperament, circumstance, and ability—will be one of “uncomfortable roommates” until June. But when Mr. Kermit unexpectedly stands up for a student, the kids of SCS-8 notice his sense of “justice and fairness.” Mr. Kermit finds he may even care a little about them, and they start to care back in their own way, turning a corner and bringing along a few ghosts from Mr. Kermit’s past. Writing in the alternating voices of Mr. Kermit, most of his students, and two administrators, Korman spins a narrative of redemption and belief in exceeding self-expectations. Naming conventions indicate characters of different ethnic backgrounds, but the book subscribes to a white default. The two students who do not narrate may be students of color, and their characterizations subtly—though arguably inadequately—demonstrate the danger of preconceptions.

Funny and endearing, though incomplete characterizations provoke questions. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-256388-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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