An adventure story with a lot to say about identity, ambition and character. (Historical fiction. 9-13)

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WILLIAM'S MIDSUMMER DREAMS

Set in the quaint town of Gold Beach in the 1930s, this sequel picks up right where William S. and the Great Escape (2009) left off.

Eighth-grader William, his brother, Buddy, and his two sisters, Trixie and Jancy, have been living with their Aunt Fiona since they escaped the clutches of their cruel father and half-brothers. William thoroughly enjoys his new life, especially when the opportunity arises to try out for the role of Puck in a prestigious summer production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After a spectacular audition, William clinches the role of Puck and makes himself an enemy in the process—a boy called Bernard, the son of the Dean of Performing Arts, who was sure he had the role locked up. A girl named Clarice, who is quite infatuated with William, insists on trying to solve his problem with Bernard and ends up only complicating things further. Finally, in an initially interesting but not entirely successful subplot, Jancy and William have to face the fact that Buddy is behaving like one of their half-brothers, starting fights and making quite the nuisance of himself. Nevertheless, the description of William’s severe case of stage nerves and his techniques for coping with this and other challenges will resonate with readers.

An adventure story with a lot to say about identity, ambition and character. (Historical fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1442419971

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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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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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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