A satisfying finale to what has become a cornerstone series in contemporary children’s literature.

AL CAPONE DOES MY HOMEWORK

Newbery Honoree Choldenko brings her trilogy about a boy and his unusual life on Alcatraz Island to a bittersweet end.

Now 13, Moose feels more responsible than ever for his autistic older sister, Natalie. So when a fire starts in his family’s apartment one evening while his parents are out, he’s sure it’s somehow his fault. Did Natalie start the fire after he nodded off? Moose and the other Alcatraz kids don’t think so, but they find it’s not so easy to prove when Natalie is unable to explain herself. Meanwhile, jealous prison guard Darby Trixle keeps giving Moose’s dad a hard time for landing the job Darby believes he deserved, and mysterious wads of cash are showing up in the prison laundry. When Moose recovers a lost piece of his homework from the burned-out apartment covered in Al Capone’s handwriting, it provides him with clues to the source of the random money and the motivation to clear Natalie’s name. Choldenko consistently excels at penning pitch-perfect dialogue and balancing a large cast of original characters, and this title is no exception. But new readers will want to start with the series opener, as this is a true concluding volume.

A satisfying finale to what has become a cornerstone series in contemporary children’s literature. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3472-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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An outstanding new edition of this popular modern classic (Newbery Award, 1961), with an introduction by Zena Sutherland and...

ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS

Coming soon!!

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1990

ISBN: 0-395-53680-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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