A satisfying baseball story that never minimizes the challenges of autism but celebrates skill, determination, and love for...

GET A GRIP, VIVY COHEN!

Eleven-year-old Vivian Jane Cohen has autism but she also throws a mean knuckleball and yearns to play baseball.

Vivy first learned of the knuckleball three years ago, at an autism event where then–minor league pitcher VJ Capello showed her how to hold the ball the right way, but she mastered it on her own. Now a coach has seen her throwing to her older brother, Nate, and invited her to join his team. Although she initially begins writing to VJ to fulfill a school assignment, little expecting a reply, magically, he begins to write back. This vivid epistolary tale captures Vivy’s growing sense of her own capabilities as she discovers that she can mostly hold her own on a boys’ team, even though she has to deal with cruel bullying from the coach’s obnoxious son. It helps that her catcher, Alex, accepts her fully and offers warm, believable encouragement as she finds ways to push back against her overprotective mother’s smothering management. Just as helpful are VJ’s insights on pitching, bullying, and life in general as he struggles with his own uncertainties. Vivy, Nate, and their parents are white and Jewish. VJ is black and Alex, Mexican American, offering opportunities for reflection on discrimination’s many facets, while in a subplot, Nate comes out as gay to their accepting parents.

A satisfying baseball story that never minimizes the challenges of autism but celebrates skill, determination, and love for the game. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-55418-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 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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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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