At best readers won't get it, and at worst they will believe it.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING MOONSTONE

From the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series , Vol. 1

The future author of Frankenstein teams up with the future inventor of the computer to establish a young ladies' detective agency.

The fact that in real life Mary Shelley, nee Godwin, was 18 years older than Ada Lovelace, nee Byron, doesn't seem to bother Stratford one whit. He simply reduces the age difference by 15 years and arranges for Mary to be sent to Ada's house for tutoring. Their tutor is a hapless Percy Shelley (bumblingly incognito); illicitly sharing Mary's carriage every day is a cheerful young Charles Dickens. Young readers unencumbered by the knowledge that the setup is laughably ahistorical may enjoy the slight mystery, which unfolds when Mary and Ada decide to spice up their routine by investigating interesting crimes. They will probably warm to Mary’s steady intelligence. They will certainly relish Ada's many eccentricities, especially the hot air balloon she keeps tethered to her roof and her willingness to store Shelley in the distillery closet when he gets in the way. But even the most credulous child may find it very hard to believe that a Victorian family submits to the interrogation of two strange girls about a lost gem under the guise of a school project. An author’s note attempts to correct the text’s inaccuracies.

At best readers won't get it, and at worst they will believe it. (Historical mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75440-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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Remarkable.

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  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Honor Book

PRAIRIE LOTUS

A “half-Chinese and half-white” girl finds her place in a Little House–inspired fictional settler town.

After the death of her Chinese mother, Hanna, an aspiring dressmaker, and her White father seek a fresh start in Dakota Territory. It’s 1880, and they endure challenges similar to those faced by the Ingallses and so many others: dreary travel through unfamiliar lands, the struggle to protect food stores from nature, and the risky uncertainty of establishing a livelihood in a new place. Fans of the Little House books will find many of the small satisfactions of Laura’s stories—the mouthwatering descriptions of victuals, the attention to smart building construction, the glorious details of pleats and poplins—here in abundance. Park brings new depth to these well-trodden tales, though, as she renders visible both the xenophobia of the town’s White residents, which ranges in expression from microaggressions to full-out assault, and Hanna’s fight to overcome it with empathy and dignity. Hanna’s encounters with women of the nearby Ihanktonwan community are a treat; they hint at the whole world beyond a White settler perspective, a world all children deserve to learn about. A deeply personal author’s note about the story’s inspiration may leave readers wishing for additional resources for further study and more clarity about her use of Lakota/Dakota. While the cover art unfortunately evokes none of the richness of the text and instead insinuates insidious stereotypes, readers who sink into the pages behind it will be rewarded.

Remarkable. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-78150-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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