Striking visuals augment an already-captivating tale.

READ REVIEW

MESSENGER

THE LEGEND OF JOAN OF ARC

Having tackled Robin Hood in Outlaw (2009) and King Arthur in Excalibur (2011), Lee now envisions Joan of Arc's humble beginnings to her inevitable martyrdom.

In 15th-century France, war and turmoil are constants as the French struggle to throw off English rule. Jehanne d'Arc, a devout country maiden, begins to receive messages from God after a fall and a consequent hit to her head. Her divine voices instruct her how to lead the French out of their occupation and restore the monarchy. At a time when women could be condemned for simply wearing men’s clothes or cutting their hair, Joan is a fearless trailblazer who leads by faith, strength, and conviction even though she knows that she will eventually be martyred for her efforts. Joan is evinced as a stubborn, confident heroine, but Lee keeps her likable by emphasizing her love of her family as well as her piety. Though Joan's fate is foretold in the opening pages, a heroic blend of epic battles and palpable wartime tension keep the pages flying. Illustrator Hart cleverly plays with perspective in many panels, some offering over-the-shoulder or from-the-ankles-up views of a scene and others zooming out with shadowy, indistinct features, then sharply juxtaposing the next with clear, close-up shots of emotive and defined faces, creating a dramatically cinematic feel. He and co-colorist Costa keep tight control over palette and lighting to complement this effect.

Striking visuals augment an already-captivating tale. (Graphic historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7613-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe.

PRISONER B-3087

If Anne Frank had been a boy, this is the story her male counterpart might have told. At least, the very beginning of this historical novel reads as such.

It is 1939, and Yanek Gruener is a 10-year old Jew in Kraków when the Nazis invade Poland. His family is forced to live with multiple other families in a tiny apartment as his beloved neighborhood of Podgórze changes from haven to ghetto in a matter of weeks. Readers will be quickly drawn into this first-person account of dwindling freedoms, daily humiliations and heart-wrenching separations from loved ones. Yet as the story darkens, it begs the age-old question of when and how to introduce children to the extremes of human brutality. Based on the true story of the life of Jack Gruener, who remarkably survived not just one, but 10 different concentration camps, this is an extraordinary, memorable and hopeful saga told in unflinching prose. While Gratz’s words and early images are geared for young people, and are less gory than some accounts, Yanek’s later experiences bear a closer resemblance to Elie Wiesel’s Night than more middle-grade offerings, such as Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. It may well support classroom work with adult review first.

A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-45901-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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