A series that improves with each offering.

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CHARLIE JOE JACKSON'S GUIDE TO SUMMER VACATION

From the Charlie Joe Jackson series , Vol. 3

Attending camp, especially an academic enrichment camp, turns out to be more than notorious slacker Charlie Joe Jackson bargained for.

Picking up where he left off in Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Extra Credit (2012), Charlie knows he is in for a miserable time at camp. The water sports and basketball courts are not enough to take the sting out of singing the camp song, “Learning to Love, and Loving to Learn,” or the horror of spending whole days with book geeks, reading and writing. Told in Charlie Joe’s sarcastic voice, interspersed with letters home to maybe-girlfriend Zoe and others, the tale moves along at breakneck speed. In the first week, the visiting jocks from a neighboring camp come for their yearly romp to find that Charlie Joe has some tricks up his sleeve. When Charlie Joe joins the newspaper staff in the second week, his interpretation of a Lech Walesa biography leads the campers to strike. In the last week, he helps a fellow camper handle a cheating dilemma. Underlying all the action are the inevitable but sweet changes that happen to middle school nerds when they discover the opposite sex. Fans of Joey Pigza and Big Nate will find a lot to love here. Charlie is no longer a caricature but a fully fleshed-out, likable young man.

A series that improves with each offering. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59643-757-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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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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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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