A touching, terrifying book about family, growing up and an event that shook the United States.

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ELEVEN

A young boy’s birthday falls on Sept. 11, 2001, in Rogers’ riveting debut middle-grade novel.

There are two things that Alex Douglas loves more than anything else: dogs and airplanes. He’s convinced that his 11th birthday will be the best ever because his parents have promised to get him a dog—if he proves he’s responsible enough by getting better grades. But the day before his birthday, he realizes that he didn’t hold up his end of the bargain. Worse, he has an awful fight about it with his father, ending it with three regrettable words: “I hate you.” Alex’s birthday seems back on track the next morning after he has a pancake breakfast. But then school bully Jordan smashes his cupcakes on the bus, and later, school lets out early without explanation before Alex’s birthday celebration. He must take care of his little sister until their mother, a nurse, gets home, but it gives him a chance to track down a stray dog, with whom he connects immediately. Then he finally hears the news that terrorists have crashed planes into the World Trade Center. All Alex can think about is his dad, who drives the PATH commuter train to the twin towers, and what he can do to bring him home safely. Rogers displays deft insight into the 11-year-old mind, and by alternating chapters among Alex, an older man named Mac and a mysterious “Man in the White Shirt” at the World Trade Center, he makes Alex’s legitimate worries, and the story as a whole, much more intense. Young readers will easily sympathize with Alex as they’re drawn into the terror of an event that, most likely, happened before they were born. As a result, the book may help them understand that tragedy’s personal side. Overall, it’s perfect for young readers who enjoy survival or disaster novels or for classrooms hoping to explore this event in recent history.

A touching, terrifying book about family, growing up and an event that shook the United States.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0991181001

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Alto Nido Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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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...

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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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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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