The Battle of Stalingrad changed the course of World War II—but at the cost of one million lives, more than any other battle in history. Tania Belova is 16 when she leaves school, trains as a sniper and helps to defend the Soviet Union from the German invasion in 1942. Based closely on the true experiences of Tania Chernova, awarded the Red Star for bravery, this third-person narrative effectively tells Tania’s gripping tale and offers perspectives on war in general. Riordan’s writing is perfectly accessible for young readers and is also a model of excellent prose—spare, evocative language rooted in active verbs, concrete nouns and well-chosen modifiers. Tania’s story moves along swiftly, as she performs her job well despite her misgivings about war and killing. There is a deep poignancy and a moral tone here, along with exciting action, heroism and anguish. The well-designed cover in black and red, complete with sniper and bullet holes, and the fast-paced tale of war ensure that this fine volume will appeal to many readers. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-84507-885-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2009

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In an absorbing historical novel from Love (My Lone Star Summer, 1996, etc.), three children flee their South Carolina Sea Island plantation, hoping to find their father, who is off spying for General Lee. Neglected by the neighbors who were supposed to care for them, the three Simon children quickly discover that they’re not up to managing on their own; when all the slaves disappear, Susanna, 12, and her younger brothers pack what they can and set off for Charleston. After a wild, nearly disastrous boat ride, they arrive, but only to find that they’re still on their own, in a town rife with rumors of an imminent Yankee invasion. Left homeless by a fire, they set off again, this time for General Lee’s headquarters. An independent sort who prefers trousers to dresses, Susanna finds that her sheltered, motherless life has left her little prepared for supervising slaves, keeping house, or even finding food for herself and her brothers; she muddles through, and is rewarded by a meeting with the godlike Lee, who expedites a joyful family reunion. Love establishes a strong sense of era with perceptive comments from slaves and slaveowners alike, keeps the plot speeding along, and in Susanna concocts a winning mix of intelligence, strong will, and naãvetÇ. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 1998

ISBN: 0-8234-1400-0

Page Count: 162

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1998

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Yolen and Harris conclude their planned quartet of Scottish novels with this tale of the 18th-century Highland Clearances. When the Macallans are suddenly harried off their rented farmstead by their new Laird’s cruel factor to make way for herds of English sheep, teenaged Roddy sneaks back to the burned-out croft in search of a brooch given to the family generations ago by Bonnie Prince Charlie. Just as he finds it, the Laird happens by, seizes the treasure and orders Roddy’s murder—but along comes bootlegger and ex-soldier Alan Dunbar to the rescue. With the help of the old Laird’s canny daughter Josie, they contrive to steal the brooch back—killing the factor in the process and setting off a breathless chase over the rugged hills. As in some of the previous volumes, the plot relies heavily on coincidences, and the characters (some of whom are tenuously based on historical figures) often come across as mouthpieces to explain the historical situation or rail at the unjustness of it all. Still, the authors weave strong feelings and a clear sense of setting into a story that gains momentum as it progresses and also ends happily. A good finish to the quartet, with echoes of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped to savor. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-399-23898-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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