PATROL

AN AMERICAN SOLDIER IN VIETNAM

Myers returns to the setting of his award-winning Fallen Angels (1988) with a stunning, unsettling picture book that attempts to put the reader into the heart and mind of an American soldier in Vietnam. The stream-of-consciousness narration takes the reader along on one patrol, as the unnamed grunt picks his way through the landscape, exchanges fire with “the enemy,” “secures” a village with the aid of grenades, and is airlifted back to the base. The spare, poetic text is written in the present tense, lending immediacy, and is packed with sensory details: “I lift my rifle and begin to rub the palm of my hand slowly along / its wooden stock. / The weather is hot, but the sweat that runs down my back feels cold.” Although the reader is told he moves with his squad, the protagonist seems to exist in psychic isolation and overload as he continually grapples with his uncertain understanding of his place, both physical and moral, relative to his enemy: “Crouched against a tree older than my grandfather, / I imagine the enemy crouching against / a tree older than his grandfather.” Grifalconi’s (One of the Problems of Everett Anderson, not reviewed, etc.) collage illustrations are remarkable, and suitably disturbing. A jungle effect is created by overlapping photographs of trees with close-up details of leaves, marbled paper, and negative space—all of which virtually overwhelm the human figures. The effect is claustrophobic and highly disorienting, made all the more so when the reader notices that the foliage is largely North American: maples and spruce appear, frequently with jolly wildflowers in the foreground. The selection of fauna is likewise confused and confusing: on one page, a giant snake rests its coils in the branches of a spruce; on the next, a quail stands next to an egret. These surreal illustrations brilliantly extend the text’s central question: just who is the enemy—and why, when he and I are so alike?—in this, the “land of my enemy?” Not exactly a fun read, but highly effective and very important. (Picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-028363-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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Don’t miss this brave hero as she confronts anti-immigrant hatred in a timely historical novel.

THREE KEYS

From the Front Desk series

Sixth grader Mia Tang returns to battle racism in this thrilling sequel to the Asian/Pacific American Award–winning Front Desk (2018).

The Tangs, who emigrated from China when Mia was little, are now the proud owners of the Calivista Motel. Mia works the front desk along with her friends Lupe Garcia, who is Mexican, and Jason Yao, who is Chinese. Her world quickly becomes clouded by the upcoming election, in which California’s Prop 187, which would ban undocumented immigrants from access to health care and public schooling, is on the ballot. The author’s note highlights personal experiences with racism and provides additional information on this historic vote. The storyline expertly weaves together the progress and setbacks Mia experiences as her family continues to work, seemingly endlessly on the edge of poverty. Lupe reveals that her family is undocumented, creating a portrait of fear as her father is jailed. The impending vote has significant consequences for all immigrants, not just the Garcias, as racial threats increase. With the help of a cast of strong supporting characters, Mia bravely uses her voice and her pen to change opinions—with family, friends, teachers, and even voters. The lessons she learns helping her friends become the key to addressing racism, as one wise friend advises: “You gotta listen, you gotta care, and most importantly, you gotta keep trying.”

Don’t miss this brave hero as she confronts anti-immigrant hatred in a timely historical novel.   (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-59138-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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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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