For anyone who’s wondered about the people inside the frames.

THE FRAME-UP

A girl in a painting and a boy visiting the gallery she hangs in foil art thieves.

Twelve-year-old Sargent Singer—named in honor of master painter John Singer Sargent—is visiting his partly estranged, emotionally volatile father, Isaac, in New Brunswick, Canada, for the summer. Isaac runs the top-tier Beaverbrook Art Gallery, which houses works by, among others, Thomas Gainsborough, Salvador Dalí, and Sargent’s namesake. Mona Dunn, the other protagonist, is forever 13: William Orpen painted her portrait, Mona Dunn, in 1915, and since then she’s been alive inside her painting. Unbeknownst to the public, Mona and the gallery’s other painted subjects can jump from painting to painting, visiting one another and exploring the various paintings’ landscapes. Sargent and Mona’s friendship—begun when he catches her sticking out her tongue at obnoxious kids—features a poignant trip outdoors and conversation about each one’s unique melancholy. With help, they also identify nefarious deeds (forgery? art theft?) and bravely thwart criminals. MacKnight entices with art critique and technique, although, sadly, readers never see artistic genius Sargent actually paint. In a mismatch to the emotional realism, villains are stereotypes—cartoonishly fat or lower-class. Some of the mechanics of life inside the frame are clear and others vague, but the ending’s an unexpected bolt of perfect gratification. Everyone’s white except one black friend, whom another friend refers to as intimidating. Color reproductions of relevant paintings are included in an insert.

For anyone who’s wondered about the people inside the frames. (gallery map, afterword) (Fantasy/mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266830-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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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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Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people.

GROUND ZERO

Parallel storylines take readers through the lives of two young people on Sept. 11 in 2001 and 2019.

In the contemporary timeline, Reshmina is an Afghan girl living in foothills near the Pakistan border that are a battleground between the Taliban and U.S. armed forces. She is keen to improve her English while her twin brother, Pasoon, is inspired by the Taliban and wants to avenge their older sister, killed by an American bomb on her wedding day. Reshmina helps a wounded American soldier, making her village a Taliban target. In 2001, Brandon Chavez is spending the day with his father, who works at the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World restaurant. Brandon is heading to the underground mall when a plane piloted by al-Qaida hits the tower, and his father is among those killed. The two storylines develop in parallel through alternating chapters. Gratz’s deeply moving writing paints vivid images of the loss and fear of those who lived through the trauma of 9/11. However, this nuance doesn’t extend to the Afghan characters; Reshmina and Pasoon feel one-dimensional. Descriptions of the Taliban’s Afghan victims and Reshmina's gentle father notwithstanding, references to all young men eventually joining the Taliban and Pasoon's zeal for their cause counteract this messaging. Explanations for the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan in the author’s note and in characters’ conversations too simplistically present the U.S. presence.

Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-24575-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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