Of potential interest as curriculum support, this treatment requires advanced reading skills (or a grown-up) and a basic...

REVOLUTIONARY FRIENDS

GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON AND THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE

This effort to illuminate and explicate the affectionate relationship between George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, as well as its impact on United States history, is enthusiastic but perhaps ambitious for the format.

The body of the work is presented as an illustrated narrative with interjections expressing Lafayette’s point of view; focusing on a short period of time, it is relatively straightforward. Moved by news of the American Revolution, the young Marquis slips out of France at the age of 19 and sails to the New World to offer his services to Washington’s army. Only tolerated at first (because earlier émigrés had not left a positive impression), Lafayette shows his mettle in the battle of Brandywine and forges a lifelong personal bond with the general he so admires. Castrovilla writes in a heightened, emotive voice punctuated by exclamations in French. Extensive backmatter provides additional details including, among other things, a description of the continuing connection between the two men, chronological outlines of their lives, a list of French phrases found in the text, a bibliography and a list of relevant historical sites. Kozjan’s illustrations, pen and ink with digital color, reflect the action of the text effectively for the most part, though awkwardly drawn figures, both human and animal, and odd expressions distract in some cases.

Of potential interest as curriculum support, this treatment requires advanced reading skills (or a grown-up) and a basic understanding of the historical context. (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59078-880-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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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

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It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

THE CONSPIRACY

From the Plot to Kill Hitler series , Vol. 1

Near the end of World War II, two kids join their parents in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

Max, 12, lives with his parents and his older sister in a Berlin that’s under constant air bombardment. During one such raid, a mortally wounded man stumbles into the white German family’s home and gasps out his last wish: “The Führer must die.” With this nighttime visitation, Max and Gerta discover their parents have been part of a resistance cell, and the siblings want in. They meet a colorful band of upper-class types who seem almost too whimsical to be serious. Despite her charming levity, Prussian aristocrat and cell leader Frau Becker is grimly aware of the stakes. She enlists Max and Gerta as couriers who sneak forged identification papers to Jews in hiding. Max and Gerta are merely (and realistically) cogs in the adults’ plans, but there’s plenty of room for their own heroism. They escape capture, rescue each other when they’re caught out during an air raid, and willingly put themselves repeatedly at risk to catch a spy. The fictional plotters—based on a mix of several real anti-Hitler resistance cells—are portrayed with a genuine humor, giving them the space to feel alive even in such a slim volume.

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35902-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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