An uplifting, believable ending makes this companion lighter—but no less affecting—than its laurelled predecessor.

ARCADY'S GOAL

Two survivors of Stalinist oppression attempt to form a family in this companion (not sequel) to the 2012 Newbery Honor–winning Breaking Stalin’s Nose.

All young Arcady knows of his parents is that they were declared “enemies of the people”; their supposed crimes ended their lives and landed him in a “children’s home.” Having lived in several “homes,” Arcady has learned to take care of himself and to play soccer so well he can beat kids twice his size one-on-one. When one of the government inspectors decides to adopt Arcady, the boy hopes Ivan Ivanych is a soccer scout or at least a coach who can help him win a place on the Red Army Soccer Club team like his idol Fedor Brutko. But Ivan is just a former teacher who lost his wife to whispered accusations of anti-Stalinism. The two find there’s almost no escape from labels, but there may be strength in their relationship. Yelchin once again examines the lasting effects of the horrors of Stalinism on the Russian people in a simple story told from the point of view of a child. His many pencil-and-charcoal illustrations, spot and full page, are action- and emotion-packed and gracefully complement the story. An author's note provides a moving, real-world example of the lasting impact of Stalin’s atrocities.

An uplifting, believable ending makes this companion lighter—but no less affecting—than its laurelled predecessor. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9844-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

An inspiring sports story all the way to the buzzer.

WE ARE FAMILY

Basketball is life in Lorain, Ohio.

A group of seventh graders have different reasons for joining Hoop Group, an elite youth basketball program. Jayden, who lives in a tiny, cramped house with his mother and grandmother, desperately needs the money playing for the NBA would bring. Chris’ uncle made it out of Lorain and into the NBA, but he doesn’t share his uncle’s skills and can’t quite live up to his father’s expectations. Tamika’s dad was Hoop Group’s coach before Parkinson’s disease put the team’s future in jeopardy; she has a lot to prove and dreams of being the next Pat Summitt. Dex and his hardworking single mom are struggling with poverty, but he just loves the game––especially the Cleveland Cavs. And Anthony, frankly, doesn’t have much of a choice; it was either join this character-building group or face expulsion from school. A makeshift team of preteens with a lot on their plates, they discover as much about themselves (and one another) off the court as they do on it. The authors present a convincing argument about the value of basketball beyond points on the board and big contracts. The characters’ dreams are relatable along with the book’s universally valuable emphasis on hard work and perseverance. But the specifics about what it takes to make it in basketball and the fast-paced on-court action provide something special for young fans of the game. Main characters read as Black.

An inspiring sports story all the way to the buzzer. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-297109-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more