THE SHADOW CHILDREN

Shortly after the end of WW II, 11-year-old Etienne visits his grandfather's farm for the summer and discovers a shameful secret that the French village has been hiding since the war. As Grand-päre drives Etienne from the station in his wagon, they pass a group of refugee children on the road. Etienne is used to these ragged and forlorn strangers and likes to give them food and money, but Grand-päre drives by them as though he doesn't see them. Etienne thinks his grandfather is being heartless, but the truth is that Grand- päre doesn't see the refugees because they are not there: They all died in concentration camps. During the war, many children had sought refuge in Grand-päre's isolated rural community, but when the Nazis presented the village with an ultimatum, the townspeople gave the children up in order to save themselves. Now they try to forget the past, but the children return to exhort Etienne, who is himself half- Jewish, to remember what was done to them. They do not blame the townspeople for handing them over to the Nazis, but for denying what happened. Because of Etienne, their memory will live on. Without horrific photographs or artifacts, Schnur (This Thing Called Love, 1992, etc.) dramatizes the importance of remembrance. (Illustrations not seen) (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-13281-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1994

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THE BOOK THIEF

When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as “an attempt—a flying jump of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.” When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor’s wife’s library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel’s experiences move Death to say, “I am haunted by humans.” How could the human race be “so ugly and so glorious” at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83100-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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THE LOUD SILENCE OF FRANCINE GREEN

It’s 1949, and 13-year-old Francine Green lives in “the land of ‘Sit down, Francine’ and ‘Be quiet, Francine’ ” at All Saints School for Girls in Los Angeles. When she meets Sophie Bowman and her father, she’s encouraged to think about issues in the news: the atomic bomb, peace, communism and blacklisting. This is not a story about the McCarthy era so much as one about how one girl—who has been trained to be quiet and obedient by her school, family, church and culture—learns to speak up for herself. Cushman offers a fine sense of the times with such cultural references as President Truman, Hopalong Cassidy, Montgomery Clift, Lucky Strike, “duck and cover” and the Iron Curtain. The dialogue is sharp, carrying a good part of this story of friends and foes, guilt and courage—a story that ought to send readers off to find out more about McCarthy, his witch-hunt and the First Amendment. Though not a happily-ever-after tale, it dramatizes how one person can stand up to unfairness, be it in front of Senate hearings or in the classroom. (author’s note) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-618-50455-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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