Despite concerns, this coming-of-age tale offers a vivid, accessible portrait of a fascinating time and place.

ANYWHERE BUT PARADISE

As far as Peggy Sue is concerned, Hawaii is no paradise.

The seventh-grader is already unhappy about moving from Texas to Hawaii in 1960, halfway through the year and with her cat, Howdy, stuck in quarantine for 120 days, when an eighth-grader at her new school calls her a “stupid haole” (white), warning that the last day of school is “Kill Haole Day.” Despite Peggy Sue’s efforts to make peace, the bullying continues. Learning how Queen Liliuokalani was deposed and her kingdom taken over by American businessmen helps Peggy Sue understand anti-haole sentiment, but it still hurts. Despite being befriended by Malina, a classmate whose mother teaches Peggy Sue’s hula class, Peggy Sue’s miserable—plus Howdy’s losing his fur and has stopped purring. How can she feel at home in a place where native Hawaiians are prejudiced against whites and devastating tsunamis take lives? By sewing outfits for the upcoming hula recital, she can earn airfare back to Texas. Hawaii born and raised, Bustard brings this early statehood era and its racial tensions to life effectively. However, Peggy Sue’s portrayal as indifferent to race distinctions and free of racial bias herself feels anachronistic at best for a white adolescent from Texas, where, in 1960, desegregation was vigorously opposed by whites and barely touched public institutions, schools and businesses. Why is only cruel Kiki a child of her time?

Despite concerns, this coming-of-age tale offers a vivid, accessible portrait of a fascinating time and place. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60684-585-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Egmont USA

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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