In 1944, Lily's eagerly awaited summer vacation becomes a time of anxiety when her widower father, Poppy, announces that he's off to Europe with the US Army Corps of Engineers. Lily's lonely in Rockaway with both her father and her summer friend, Margaret, gone, until she meets an orphan from Budapest living temporarily with her grandmother's neighbor. At first she responds coldly to Albert, but is soon drawn to him by his awkward dignity and his tragic tale of dead parents and ill sister, Ruth, left behind in France. As they care for an abandoned kitten together and wistfully watch ships passing on the horizon, a solid friendship develops, and by the time they part, Lily and Albert have helped each other through difficult times. Much of the plot, characters, and premise is conventional, but Giff (Shark in School, 1994, etc.) really pulls readers' heartstrings with Albert's memories of his family, the loss of Margaret's well-liked brother in the war, and Lily's joyful reunion with Poppy. Pull out the hankies for the final scene, in which Lily returns to Rockaway the following summer to find Albert—and Ruth—waiting for her. It's a strong ending to a deftly told story. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-385-32142-2

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1996

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When Mariano’s mother and friend decide to restore and convert an old plantation house into an inn, the ghostly apparition of Rosario, a slave child from the previous century, brings to light a story of cruel mass murder in 19th-century Brazil. With three friends, Leo, Elisa and Tere, Mariano experiences a series of séance visits during the late night hours as Rosario tells them the history of her family and how the laws overturning slavery caused their cruel master to lock his slaves in a burning barn rather than grant them freedom. Only her little brother Amaro escaped and it turns out he became the only heir to the plantation. Rosario wants the truth recorded and remembered and requests Mariano write it down. Told in the first person from the boy’s point of view, the “visits” slowly piece together the slave child’s mysterious bits of information later verified by Leo’s grandmother. Translated from the Portuguese, this Hans Christian Andersen award winner weaves together a mildly enigmatic yet unexciting plot that purports themes of freedom and justice accompanied by slightly cubist-style charcoal or pastel drawings. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-88899-597-0

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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Hattie’s third outing (Hattie On Her Way, 2005, etc.) begins with a mystery: Does the tiny encoded book left hidden in a coat by her (possibly insane) grandfather contain the key to a hidden treasure? That treasure will be essential if her impoverished elderly grandmother is to pay the delinquent taxes on her elegant mansion. Hattie, in a mildly engaging first-person voice, relates her efforts to solve this mystery, while also struggling to fit in with her new classmates at the common (public) school. Several characters carry over from the two previous tales. The appealing and ever-so-slightly creepy cover art will draw readers in, but those expecting a suspenseful mystery will be disappointed, with the book’s code too easily broken and a lack of intriguing red herrings to advance the plot. With the exception of Hattie herself, characters lack depth, and the late 19th-century urban atmosphere is only superficially depicted. Although able to stand alone, this effort will most likely satisfy only those readers wanting to reconnect with Hattie. (Mystery. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3249-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009

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