The story seems to be trying hard to provide substance, but readers will notice the effort it takes. (Historical fiction....

DOLLS OF WAR

From the Friendship Dolls series , Vol. 3

A young white girl tries to hold onto a special Japanese doll in the racially charged aftermath of the Pearl Harbor bombings in this third book about the Friendship Dolls.

Macy, 11, treasures Miss Tokyo, a near–life-size doll that resides in the small Oregon museum her father runs. One of several handcrafted dolls originally exchanged between Japan and America in 1926, Miss Tokyo, who wears an exquisite kimono and comes complete with a full set of culturally appropriate accessories, had reminded Macy’s recently deceased mother of her own missionary childhood in Japan. As such, the doll provides one of Macy’s only links to her mother’s memory. With her 17-year-old brother freshly enlisted and her father distanced by grief, Macy writes her mother letters in the persona of Miss Tokyo. But now the country is at war with Japan, and anti-Japanese sentiment runs high. White townsfolk are pleased when their Japanese-American neighbors are rounded up by the government, and they want to burn Miss Tokyo. Macy struggles against a mob mentality—not always in realistic ways. Her emotional involvement with the doll is credible, but the greater emotional story—her father’s physical abandonment of her in order to avoid telling her a hard truth—is glossed over in a way that feels dishonest.

The story seems to be trying hard to provide substance, but readers will notice the effort it takes. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9069-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people.

GROUND ZERO

Parallel storylines take readers through the lives of two young people on Sept. 11 in 2001 and 2019.

In the contemporary timeline, Reshmina is an Afghan girl living in foothills near the Pakistan border that are a battleground between the Taliban and U.S. armed forces. She is keen to improve her English while her twin brother, Pasoon, is inspired by the Taliban and wants to avenge their older sister, killed by an American bomb on her wedding day. Reshmina helps a wounded American soldier, making her village a Taliban target. In 2001, Brandon Chavez is spending the day with his father, who works at the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World restaurant. Brandon is heading to the underground mall when a plane piloted by al-Qaida hits the tower, and his father is among those killed. The two storylines develop in parallel through alternating chapters. Gratz’s deeply moving writing paints vivid images of the loss and fear of those who lived through the trauma of 9/11. However, this nuance doesn’t extend to the Afghan characters; Reshmina and Pasoon feel one-dimensional. Descriptions of the Taliban’s Afghan victims and Reshmina's gentle father notwithstanding, references to all young men eventually joining the Taliban and Pasoon's zeal for their cause counteract this messaging. Explanations for the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan in the author’s note and in characters’ conversations too simplistically present the U.S. presence.

Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-24575-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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