An outstanding new edition of this popular modern classic (Newbery Award, 1961), with an introduction by Zena Sutherland and...


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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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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner


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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A promising debut.


The horrors of the Guatemalan civil war are filtered through the eyes of a boy coming of age.

Set in Chopán in 1981, this verse novel follows the life of Carlos, old enough to feed the chickens but not old enough to wring their necks as the story opens. Carlos’ family and other villagers are introduced in early poems, including Santiago Luc who remembers “a time when there were no soldiers / driving up in jeeps, holding / meetings, making / laws, scattering / bullets into the trees, / hunting guerillas.” On an errand for his mother when soldiers attack, Carlos makes a series of decisions that ultimately save his life but leave him doubting his manliness and bravery. An epilogue of sorts helps tie the main narrative to the present, and the book ends on a hopeful note. In her debut, Brown has chosen an excellent form for exploring the violence and loss of war, but at times, stylistic decisions (most notably attempts at concrete poetry) appear to trump content. While some of the individual poems may be difficult for readers to follow and the frequent references to traditional masculinity may strike some as patriarchal, the use of Spanish is thoughtful, as are references to local flora and fauna. The overall effect is a moving introduction to a subject seldom covered in fiction for youth.

A promising debut. (glossary, author Q&A) (Verse/historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6516-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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