A harrowing and remarkable story of strength and survival.

ALIAS ANNA

A TRUE STORY OF OUTWITTING THE NAZIS

Sisters Zhanna and Frina Arshanskaya were piano prodigies in Stalin’s Soviet Union who survived against the odds.

The Jewish Arshansky family lived in the small Ukrainian city of Berdyansk until the sisters were 8 and 6, when growing antisemitism forced them to settle in bustling Kharkov. The sisters earned scholarships to a famed music conservatory and were happy for some time. But when the Einsatzgruppen, or Nazi death squads, arrived in 1941, the family was forced on a long death march to Drobitsky Yar where nearly everyone was killed. The two girls, then 14 and 12, escaped and made it back to Kharkov. Relying on the kindness of courageous people, Zhanna and Frina obtained false papers and established new identities as Christian girls named Anna and Marina Morozova. They went on to become renowned pianists, hiding in plain sight and entertaining German audiences and Nazi soldiers across Europe. Though constantly living with the risk of discovery, they survived the war with their secret safe. Using a variety of poetry styles and direct quotes from Dawson’s mother, Zhanna, the co-authors relate the siblings’ horrific and incredible lives. While some of the verse forms seem almost too frivolous for such a serious tale, this work offers readers the truth of the Shoah in a simple and accessible format.

A harrowing and remarkable story of strength and survival. (note on names, map, authors’ note, photographs, letters, afterword, list of music, historical note, places of note, poetry notes, sources, bibliography) (Verse biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308389-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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A likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl.

FRIENDS FOREVER

From the Friends series , Vol. 3

Shannon just wants to get through eighth grade in one piece—while feeling like her own worst enemy.

In this third entry in popular author for young people Hale’s graphic memoir series, the young, sensitive overachiever is crushed by expectations: to be cool but loyal to her tightknit and dramatic friend group, a top student but not a nerd, attractive to boys but true to her ideals. As events in Shannon’s life begin to overwhelm her, she works toward finding a way to love and understand herself, follow her passions for theater and writing, and ignore her cruel inner voice. Capturing the visceral embarrassments of middle school in 1987 Salt Lake City, Shannon’s emotions are vivid and often excruciating. In particular, the social norms of a church-oriented family are clearly addressed, and religion is shown as being both a comfort and a struggle for Shannon. While the text is sometimes in danger of spelling things out a little too neatly and obviously, the emotional honesty and sincerity drawn from Hale’s own life win out. Pham’s artwork is vibrant and appealing, with stylistic changes for Shannon’s imaginings and the leeching out of color and use of creative panel structures as her anxiety and depression worsen.

A likable journey that is sensitive to the triumphs and agonies of being a 13-year-old girl. (author's note, gallery) (Graphic memoir. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-31755-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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