This bracing, well-told story, laced with themes of self-responsibility, compassion, and honor, is both vital and nourishing.

THE WOLF'S BOY

Sometime in prehistory, a crippled boy and his wolf companion face coming-of-age challenges.

Twelve-year-old Kai was not supposed to live. Born with a crippled foot, he would be a burden to his community, so his father left the infant Kai near a wolf den. Instead of killing him, though, the wolves nurture him. When Kai’s mother discovers her infant is still alive, she brings him back to the family, where he grows up bullied and considered cursed. One day, Kai brings home a weak, motherless wolf pup to raise—an unheard-of event. Beckhorn skillfully explores the early beginnings of the human-wolf interaction that led to modern-day dogs in heartwarming scenarios that show the growing bond between Kai and the pup, Uff. But when Uff is threatened by the community’s leader, Kai and Uff set out to try to survive on their own in the territory of the feared Ice Men. Painting her prehistoric world with now-extinct animals, pristine landscapes, and descriptions of survival techniques that will fascinate readers, Beckhorn also makes it an accessible one by giving Kai the fears and doubts of many adolescents searching for their roles in life. As Kai faces challenges, he comes to believe in his unique talents and, ultimately, in himself.

This bracing, well-told story, laced with themes of self-responsibility, compassion, and honor, is both vital and nourishing. (Historical fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2553-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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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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An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

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GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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