Adventures across a massive war and pandemic make for a tidy tribute to common understanding.


Five teenagers from across Europe lead coincidentally intersecting lives during World War I.

The day that 12-year-old Felix witnesses the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, everything changes. His father goes to war, and Felix loses the relative safety afforded to Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His city is invaded by imperial Russia, and the Jews and Roma of Lemberg might be shipped to internment camps. With the help of Elsa, a German girl, Felix and his mother escape. Though they go their separate ways, Felix and Elsa will meet again, along with British Kara, French Juliette, and Russian Dimitri. Kara wants to be a doctor and works as an orderly on a Red Cross train, Juliette seeks her lost family, and Dimitri is a miserable soldier in the trenches. The chain of coincidences that repeatedly bring these teens into each other’s lives is increasingly improbable until they resolve five years later, on the last day of the war to end all wars. While the events are packed with historical facts, the overall framing feels ahistorical: the British are kind, competent rescuers; to be a good German requires being opposed to one’s countrymen; and a Russian sees “freedom” from both the tsar and Lenin in the land-mined French countryside.

Adventures across a massive war and pandemic make for a tidy tribute to common understanding. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-62093-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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A winningly authentic, realistic and heartwarming family drama.


A family crisis pushes a 12-year-old wannabe cowboy living outside Chicago in 1953 to resort to bullying and damaging pranks.

Since his baby sister’s birth, Tommy’s normally moody mother’s been like a “sky full of dark clouds.” When his older sister’s seriously burned, Tommy’s left to cope with her daily newspaper route, his increasingly abusive mother, his overwhelmed father and his younger sisters. Tommy reacts by bullying classmates, especially a shy, overweight new boy at school named Sam. When he’s caught stealing from Sam’s father’s store, Tommy retaliates by planting a copy of a communist newspaper found during a community paper drive in the store. After the owner’s accused of being a communist and the store’s boycotted, Tommy realizes he’s acting like an outlaw instead of a cowboy, and he tries to find the real communist in the neighborhood, leading to surprising discoveries and the help his family desperately needs. Speaking in the first person, Tommy reveals himself as a good-hearted, responsible kid who’s temporarily lost his moral compass. Effective use of cowboy imagery allows Tommy to step up like his hero, Gary Cooper in High Noon, and do the right thing. Period detail and historical references effectively capture the anti-communist paranoia of the McCarthy era.

A winningly authentic, realistic and heartwarming family drama. (author’s note, photos) (Historical fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-16328-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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A splendidly exciting and accessible historical adventure.


Tory encounters the independence and adventure she longs for in the untamed city of San Francisco in 1849.

Thirteen-year-old narrator Victoria Blaisdell, known to her family as Tory, lives a comfortably privileged life in mid-19th-century Providence, Rhode Island. She is frustrated and constrained by the influence of her maternal aunt, Lavinia, who believes that girls are to take care of boys and should be educated only at home. But when Tory’s father loses his position and wages and decides to seek gold in California, Tory stows away on the ship that will take him and her fretful younger brother, Jacob, on the seven-month journey to San Francisco. There, Tory finds work to keep herself and Jacob going while their father heads off to the gold fields. When Jacob is kidnapped to be a cabin boy for a ship heading out of the Golden Gate, Tory must appeal to her new friend Thad from Maine and to Sam, a wary young black man from Sag Harbor, New York, to help her navigate an underworld of gambling, rogues, and abandoned ships. Sam and Señor Rosales, who runs the cafe near Tory and Jacob’s tent, are the only nonwhite principal characters. Tory is the only girl. Avi evokes Gold Rush–era San Francisco through Tory’s eyes with empathy and clarity while keeping the action lively.

A splendidly exciting and accessible historical adventure. (Historical fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0679-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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