For fans of Wonder looking for more ways to appreciate tolerance and diversity.

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ALL THE THINGS THAT COULD GO WRONG

The author of Bubble (2017) once again engages preteens’ emotional intelligence, this time tackling bullying and mental illness from dual perspectives.

Alex’s OCD makes him see and feel germs everywhere, so he wears gloves in public, which often makes him a target of bullying—his private “Worry Lists” don’t seem to keep his phobias from multiplying. Meanwhile, Dan adores and always followed his big brother, Ben, but when Ben had to go away (exactly why and where become a light mystery), Dan fell under the spell of bully Sophie, who makes Alex her primary target. Dan unconsciously tries to hide his hurt and anger about Ben by working on a raft the two had begun. In short, alternating first-person chapters, the two Year Seven British boys give readers access to their inner thoughts and pain. When their friendly mums arrange for them to work on Dan’s raft together, Alex must confront his debilitating phobias and Dan must hide the relationship from Sophie. As work together slowly turns into mutual understanding and finally, friendship, readers also see the causes and effects of both bullying and empathy. The high tension and realism (including pop culture, family dynamics, etc.) will keep the interest of avid and reluctant readers alike. Alex, Dan, and Sophie all appear to be white, and the book assumes the white default.

For fans of Wonder looking for more ways to appreciate tolerance and diversity. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-41685-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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