This is a solid addition to one of the most uneven collections of literature for children: Holocaust-related historical...

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THE END OF THE LINE

Two kindhearted, confirmed-bachelor brothers take in an endangered little Jewish girl during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam.

Historical fiction for children is fraught with traps, and none more so than those introducing young readers to Holocaust history. This novel manages to walk that tightrope, allowing children to learn some grim realities without annihilating their sense of hope or resorting to stereotypes that undermine the ability of the genre to increase readers’ empathy. The text’s distinctiveness lies in its style: Rather than presenting one protagonist’s point of view—as in Lois Lowry’s exemplary Number the Stars—the third-person-omniscient perspective allows readers to identify with several characters throughout the tale. Readers feel the terror and sorrow of Beatrix and her mother as Mamma is forced by soldiers to leave the tram that is run by brothers Hans and Lars; they empathize with the brothers during the humorous passages in which the redoubtable neighbor Mrs. Vos teaches them how to care for a little girl; they feel the alternating waves of uneasiness and relief experienced regularly by people under occupation. Most of the detailed action occurs from 1942-1945, but the tale wraps up in 1973, when Beatrix is mother to a 10-year-old daughter.

This is a solid addition to one of the most uneven collections of literature for children: Holocaust-related historical fiction. (foreword, afterword) (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55451-659-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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The bird’s-eye view into this pivotal moment provides a powerful story, one that adults will applaud—but between the...

MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON

The ugly brutality of the Jim Crow South is recounted in dulcet, poetic tones, creating a harsh and fascinating blend.

Fact and fiction pair in the story of Rose Lee Carter, 13, as she copes with life in a racially divided world. It splits wide open when a 14-year-old boy from Chicago named Emmett Till goes missing. Jackson superbly blends the history into her narrative. The suffocating heat, oppression, and despair African-Americans experienced in 1955 Mississippi resonate. And the author effectively creates a protagonist with plenty of suffering all her own. Practically abandoned by her mother, Rose Lee is reviled in her own home for the darkness of her brown skin. The author ably captures the fear and dread of each day and excels when she shows the peril of blacks trying to assert their right to vote in the South, likely a foreign concept to today’s kids. Where the book fails, however, is in its overuse of descriptors and dialect and the near-sociopathic zeal of Rose Lee's grandmother Ma Pearl and her lighter-skinned cousin Queen. Ma Pearl is an emotionally remote tyrant who seems to derive glee from crushing Rose Lee's spirits. And Queen is so glib and self-centered she's almost a cartoon.

The bird’s-eye view into this pivotal moment provides a powerful story, one that adults will applaud—but between the avalanche of old-South homilies and Rose Lee’s relentlessly hopeless struggle, it may be a hard sell for younger readers. (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-78510-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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