ANGEL SECRETS

STORIES BASED ON JEWISH LEGEND

This charming collection of stories is based on Jewish legends that teach that the Holy of Holies created links between Heaven and earth. These links are groups of angels, and what a lot they are. Each group has been given specific tasks to perform on earth, and, as characterized here, angels possess human, relatable feelings and ideas and, yes, sometimes even flaws. Readers will be fascinated and comforted to know that angels apparently feel self-doubt, jealousy, worry, confusion and many other emotions. It will come as no surprise that angels are musical, but who knew they can’t dance at all and love to laugh? Their relations with God are warm and wonderful. These are reverential stories that teach gentle, humorous lessons and shed a reassuring light on how connected humans are with the world of the spirit. Gore’s soft, delicate paintings glow with light. Includes a note about the stories, an author’s introduction and sources and references. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8050-7150-4

Page Count: 68

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2005

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A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot.

A GALAXY OF SEA STARS

In sixth grade, Izzy Mancini’s cozy, loving world falls apart.

She and her family have moved out of the cottage she grew up in. Her mother has spent the summer on Block Island instead of at home with Izzy. Her father has recently returned from military service in Afghanistan partially paralyzed and traumatized. The only people she can count on are Zelda and Piper, her best friends since kindergarten—that is, until the Haidary family moves into the upstairs apartment. At first, Izzy resents the new guests from Afghanistan even though she knows she should be grateful that Dr. Haidary saved her father’s life. But despite her initial resistance (which manifests at times as racism), as Izzy gets to know Sitara, the Haidarys’ daughter, she starts to question whether Zelda and Piper really are her friends for forever—and whether she has the courage to stand up for Sitara against the people she loves. Ferruolo weaves a rich setting, fully immersing readers in the largely white, coastal town of Seabury, Rhode Island. Disappointingly, the story resolves when Izzy convinces her classmates to accept Sitara by revealing the Haidarys’ past as American allies, a position that put them in so much danger that they had to leave home. The idea that Sitara should be embraced only because her family supported America, rather than simply because she is a human being, significantly undermines the purported message of tolerance for all.

A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30909-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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An important story about staying true to yourself.

BARAKAH BEATS

Twelve-year-old Nimra Sharif is attending public school for the first time.

Pakistani American Nimra was home-schooled until she was 8, then attended a private Islamic school where she memorized the Quran, becoming a hafiza. Now her parents have decided that it is time for her to attend public school, where she’ll be with her childhood best friend, Jenna, a White girl. But once seventh grade starts, Jenna ignores and avoids Nimra. Fortunately, Nimra meets other Muslim students: Matthew, a White convert; Bilal and Khadijah, Somali American siblings; and Pakistani American Waleed. When Bilal, Matthew, and Waleed ask her to join Barakah Beats, their Muslim band, she hesitates because of her family’s interpretation of Islamic teachings, which eschews taking part in instrumental music. But she gives in, believing that hanging out with three popular, attractive eighth grade boys will impress Jenna. Her plan to join the band just long enough to regain Jenna’s friendship before dropping out leads to her lying to her parents—and a sticky friendship situation when the boys sign up to perform at a mosque talent show to raise money for refugees. While secondary characters are less well fleshed out, Nimra grows, takes responsibility for her actions, and thoughtfully engages with her faith. Siddiqui has written a sympathetic character who wants to stay true to her beliefs while facing the pressures of school, changing relationships, and diverse beliefs about music within Muslim communities.

An important story about staying true to yourself. (author's note) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-70206-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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