The world has no need of a Holocaust tale that presents Nazism as relatively benign.



An old-fashioned boys' adventure tale emerges from an almost unrecognizable retelling of a true Holocaust survival story.

Twelve-year-old Anton is a Jewish peasant in the Ukrainian village of Borshchiv. Anton's grandmother (evidently based on real-life heroine Esther Stermer, never named in the author's note) is sure the Nazis can't be trusted. In the dead of night, Anton and his family sneak away to hide in a nearby cave. Evil Gestapo officer Von Duesen is determined to make Borshchiv Judenfrei, completely free of Jews, and he's sure there's a Jewish family hiding around here somewhere. Von Duesen becomes increasingly unhinged throughout the year as Anton outwits him. He makes mean threats when Anton's grandmother spits in his face, and eventually he turns to murder, horrifying other Nazis by shooting some Jews in cold blood: " ‘Mein Gott, Herr Major...Was haben Sie getan?’ What have you done?" His Gestapo superiors even punish him for the murder, because of potential public relations damage. Of the historical and cultural inaccuracies permeating Anton's adventure, the most egregious is this portrayal of Nazis (who by 1943 in the real Borshchiv had shot or buried alive over 3,000 Jews, including one massacre of 1,800 that took three days, just months before Von Duesen's supposed crime).

The world has no need of a Holocaust tale that presents Nazism as relatively benign. (sources, author's note) (Historical fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-85782-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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Dizzyingly silly.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...


A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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