Grim, upsetting and utterly beautiful, this is both a strong anti-war statement and a fascinating glimpse of a little-known...

AND THE SOLDIERS SANG

Definitely for older children (and most likely to be appreciated by adults), this version of the true story of the Christmas Truce of 1914 is told through the eyes of a fictional young Welshman, with a terse yet lyrical text and stark, dramatic illustrations.

The unofficial cease-fire has inspired other picture books, including Christmas in the Trenches, based on the song by John McCutcheon. That version also used a fictional hero/narrator but allowed him to survive to tell the tale to his curious grandchildren. Lewis’ unnamed soldier is not so lucky. He describes the horrors of war eloquently and evokes the miracle of peace that reigned briefly for the holiday. The author piles on the poignancy, revealing the young man’s vain hope that the war would soon be over in a journal entry discovered after his death by sniper shot. He notes in a brief afterword that the war continued for just under four more years with a total loss of almost 10 million lives. Kelley’s compelling artwork features mostly dark shades and strong, angular compositions. The overall design includes panels of various sizes, allowing him to pack in plenty of events and emotions and providing a strong narrative flow.

Grim, upsetting and utterly beautiful, this is both a strong anti-war statement and a fascinating glimpse of a little-known historical event. (Picture book. 8 & up)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56846-220-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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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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