This novel neither elucidates nor entertains; it's hard to see a reason for it.

READ REVIEW

MASSACRE OF THE MINERS

From the Horrors of History series

A fictional account of a real, deadly day.

In 1914, when coal miners in several Colorado communities went on strike for more pay and better working conditions, they and their families were forced out of company-owned housing. They set up tent camps and continued to strike. Tempers flared among the miners, scab workers, and coal company officials; eventually, the National Guard set up militia nearby. On April 21, miners and militia fought a deadly battle whose origin is unclear; by the end of the day, 20 people had been killed, including two women and 11 children who suffocated in the cellar where they sought refuge. Anderson's latest in his Horrors of History series begins with this grisly sight and then flashes back two days with his imagined story of how it came to be. The narrative comes at readers from all angles, with no clear main character or point of view but with far too many characters for easy comprehension. The background of the strike is hard to understand, the topography of the attack murky, and the violence inexplicable. Anderson seems to revel in gory details, as when a 10-year-old boy is shot: "A bullet had torn off a large chunk of Frank's skull and brain."

This novel neither elucidates nor entertains; it's hard to see a reason for it. (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-520-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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A must-read graphic novel that is both heart-rending and beautifully hopeful.

WHITE BIRD

A WONDER STORY

A grandmother shares her story of survival as a Jew in France during World War II.

As part of a homework assignment, Julian (Auggie’s chief tormentor in Wonder, 2012) video chats with Grandmère, who finally relates her wartime story. Born Sara Blum to a comfortable French Jewish family, she is indulged by her parents, who remain in Vichy France after 1940. Then, in 1943, after the German occupation, soldiers come to Sara’s school to arrest her and the other Jewish students. Sara hides and is soon spirited away by “Tourteau,” a student that she and the others had teased because of his crablike, crutch-assisted walk after being stricken by polio. Nonetheless, Tourteau, whose real name is Julien, and his parents shelter Sara in their barn loft for the duration of the war, often at great peril but always with care and love. Palacio begins each part of her story with quotations: from Muriel Rukeyser’s poetry, Anne Frank, and George Santayana. Her digital drawings, inked by Czap, highlight facial close-ups that brilliantly depict emotions. The narrative thread, inspired by Palacio’s mother-in-law, is spellbinding. In the final pages, the titular bird, seen in previous illustrations, soars skyward and connects readers to today’s immigration tragedies. Extensive backmatter, including an afterword by Ruth Franklin, provides superb resources. Although the book is being marketed as middle-grade, the complexities of the Holocaust in Vichy France, the growing relationship between Sara and Julien, Julien’s fate, and the mutual mistrust among neighbors will be most readily appreciated by Wonder’s older graduates.

A must-read graphic novel that is both heart-rending and beautifully hopeful. (author’s note, glossary, suggested reading list, organizations and resources, bibliography, photographs) (Graphic historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-64553-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch.

RESISTANCE

A Jewish girl joins up with Polish resistance groups to fight for her people against the evils of the Holocaust.

Chaya Lindner is forcibly separated from her family when they are consigned to the Jewish ghetto in Krakow. The 16-year-old is taken in by the leaders of Akiva, a fledgling Jewish resistance group that offers her the opportunity to become a courier, using her fair coloring to pass for Polish and sneak into ghettos to smuggle in supplies and information. Chaya’s missions quickly become more dangerous, taking her on a perilous journey from a disastrous mission in Krakow to the ghastly ghetto of Lodz and eventually to Warsaw to aid the Jews there in their gathering uprising inside the walls of the ghetto. Through it all, she is partnered with a secretive young girl whom she is reluctant to trust. The trajectory of the narrative skews toward the sensational, highlighting moments of resistance via cinematic action sequences but not pausing to linger on the emotional toll of the Holocaust’s atrocities. Younger readers without sufficient historical knowledge may not appreciate the gravity of the events depicted. The principal characters lack depth, and their actions and the situations they find themselves in often require too much suspension of disbelief to pass for realism.

Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-14847-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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