A compassionate, emotionally astute portrait of a young Cuban in exile.

CUBA IN MY POCKET

To escape the harsh realities of Castro’s Cuba, a 12-year-old boy must leave his family behind and flee to the United States alone.

Following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, Fidel’s grip on Cuba tightens. Neighbors whisper and conspire against each other, and those not loyal to Castro’s regime face punishment, even execution. When young Cumba is marked for military recruitment, his family decides to send him off to the United States. Escaping to Miami and the home of a distant relative, Cumba struggles to adjust to his new life without his family. The labyrinthlike city’s size and the cacophony of English-speaking voices overwhelm the young boy at first. School also brings its share of pains and embarrassments. Thankfully, Cumba gains allies in the unlikeliest ways, including an American schoolmate obsessed with horse races and other Cuban refugee young people. Letters from his little brother back home also bring him some comfort. Then, one day, a letter brings horrible news: Fidel’s soldiers have arrested Cumba’s parents. Inspired by stories from her father’s childhood, Cuevas’ latest is a triumph of the heart. Devoting half of the story to Cumba’s life in Cuba and the other half to his adjustment to the United States, the author continually reminds readers about the strength provided by community and family and the forces that can threaten to snatch these sources of happiness away.

A compassionate, emotionally astute portrait of a young Cuban in exile. (author’s note, glossary) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-31467-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

WISHTREE

Generations of human and animal families grow and change, seen from the point of view of the red oak Wishing Tree that shelters them all.

Most trees are introverts at heart. So says Red, who is over 200 years old and should know. Not to mention that they have complicated relationships with humans. But this tree also has perspective on its animal friends and people who live within its purview—not just witnessing, but ultimately telling the tales of young people coming to this country alone or with family. An Irish woman named Maeve is the first, and a young 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar is the most recent. Red becomes the repository for generations of wishes; this includes both observing Samar’s longing wish and sporting the hurtful word that another young person carves into their bark as a protest to Samar’s family’s presence. (Red is monoecious, they explain, with both male and female flowers.) Newbery medalist Applegate succeeds at interweaving an immigrant story with an animated natural world and having it all make sense. As Red observes, animals compete for resources just as humans do, and nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. This swiftly moving yet contemplative read is great for early middle grade, reluctant or tentative readers, or precocious younger students.

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04322-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

more