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Hi all! Stacey here with my buddy and fellow PubCrawler Stephanie Garber. There may come a time in your life where you will be asked to moderate a panel or facilitate a discussion. Here are our ten hot tips for moderating success.
1) Read the panelists’ books. The best panels in my opinion are the ones in which the moderator asks questions tailored to the author’s works. Obviously, this isn’t always possible, but at least be familiar with the book’s main ideas and stand out points. Don’t be afraid to ask your panelists’ publicists for books. It’s in the publishers’ interests for you to be informed about their author’s works. My secret weapon is to listen to the panelists’ audiobooks, when available. You can make your commute go by faster, and you can listen to them at 3x speed.
2) Send questions ahead of time. Some panelists can answer questions easily on the fly; others would rather visit the dentist than be unprepared. The more you can make your panelists comfortable, the easier time you will have facilitating a conversation.
3) Introduce your authors using the same tone and length. Often moderators will simply read an author’s bio for the introduction, but this invites problems. I recently participated in a panel where the moderator relied on our bios. My own is short and humorous, and doesn’t mention awards or distinctions, whereas the bio of the woman next to me mentioned every degree and award she had received. By contrast, I couldn’t help feeling like the village idiot. This might take a little work on your part to make your intros ‘match,’ but you’ll come across as more polished, and your authors will thank you.
(Note: I have encountered diva/divo panelists who want to be introduced a certain way. I tell them I will do my best, but make no promises. I firmly believe in treating every panelist with dignity and respect, and that means not putting one above the other).
I have spoken on panels where the moderator asks each author to introduce herself, which I find awkward and painful. Not everyone is comfortable talking about herself, and on the flip side, some authors can run at the mouth, viewing the intro as a way to self promote. You can avoid potential awkwardness by doing the honors.
4) Help your audience distinguish between panelists by presenting them as individuals. I have used labels such as, “a rising star,” “a thrilling new voice in contemporary fiction,” “a living legend,” “a NYT bestselling author.” Obviously, make sure your descriptions are complimentary.
5) Go with the flow. A recent panel I moderated featured two authors who were good friends and pros at public speaking. They had great chemistry, and meandered from topic to topic without much prompting from me. I had prepared questions in advance, but found myself needing to replace them with ones that were more natural to the conversation at hand. An additional challenge was to include the third panelist in the discussion as much as possible. This is where a good working knowledge of the authors and their books is essential, because sometimes you have to improvise, and the best way to improvise is to come prepared.
6) Resist letting authors read from their books. I personally find this a waste of time. The audience is there to learn something they can’t learn by merely picking up the book. Plus, not every author is good at, or comfortable with, reading out loud.
7) Remember, it’s not about you. As the moderator, your job is to guide conversations so that the panelists shine. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t bring yourself into the discussion by using examples from your own life to illustrate a particular question. And if you’re asking panelists individual questions, they love it when you’re able to sincerely mention how much something in their writing resonated with you.
8) The moderator sets the tone for the panel, so be personable and engaging. Think of yourself as the first sentence of a novel, the thing that pulls readers into the story. It’s the job of the moderator to engage the attention of every guest in the room.
9) Repeat questions asked by the audience. Just because you can hear a question doesn’t mean the entire room can hear it. Repeating the question also gives your panelists a little more time to think about their answers.
10) Try to have a little fun! Everyone appreciates humor, so if at all possible, weave some into your questions and your introductions—as long as your humor is respectful to the panelists.
Swati Avasthi does a brilliant job moderating a panel at the Multnomah Library that includes myself, Tess Sharpe and Isabel Quintero.
In the comments, let us know if you’ve seen a good moderator recently. Why was s/he good? What things could the moderator have improved upon?
Review by Andye
THE PASSION OF DOLSSAby Julie BerryAge Range: 12 - 17 yearsGrade Level: 7 and upHardcover: 496 pagesPublisher: Viking Books for Young Readers (April 12, 2016)Audible Audio EditionListening Length: 11 hours and 42 minutesProgram Type: AudiobookVersion: UnabridgedPublisher: Listening LibraryGoodreads | Amazon | Audible
I must write this account, and when I have finished, I will
WHEN WE COLLIDED
By Emery Lord
Hardcover: 352 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury (April 5, 2016)
Age Range: 14 and Up
Goodreads | Amazon
Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility
Review by Natalie
FIRSTLIFEEverlife #1by Gena ShowalterSeries: An Everlife NovelHardcover: 480 pagesPublisher: Harlequin Teen (February 23, 2016)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon
Tenley "Ten" Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people after they’ve witnessed a shocking or traumatic event. People experience shock after traumatic events, but those who don’t recover from the initial shock are more likely to develop PTSD. After a distressing or upsetting event, it’s important to seek support.
While literature cannot take the place of a support group or therapy, it can help us process grief and trauma. Teens are not immune to PTSD, and several YA novels explore this disorder in different ways: through fantasy, dystopia, or realistic fiction. Some are from the perspective of the person suffering, while others explore what it’s like to be a family member or friend.
Here is a list of four young adult books that deal with PTSD:
Trail of the Deadby Joseph Bruchac – In the follow-up to Killer of Enemies, Apache teenager Lozen protects her family and friends as they travel in search of refuge in a post-apocalyptic world. Though Lozen has only taken the lives of others to protect herself and her family, the killings take a toll on her spirit and Lozen finds herself with what her people call “enemy sickness,” another name for PTSD. With the support of her friends and family, she is healed in a ceremony that reflects the traditional healing of her Apache ancestors.
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson – Hayley Kincaid and her father have moved around a lot in the past five years due to his job working on the road. They return to his hometown so that Hayley can have a shot at a normal life. However, after her father’s tours in Iraq, he developed PTSD. Hayley isn’t sure if being in her father’s hometown will help with his PTSD, or push him over the edge.
Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce – Evvy and
Rosethorn are sent to the island of Starns to help residents with a dormant volcano. While there, Evvy has flashes of a war from which she recently escaped.
Fallen Angelsby Walter Dean Myers – After his dreams of attending college fall through, Perry, a teenager from Harlem, decides to volunteer for the service and joins the Vietnam War. Perry and his platoon are sent to the front lines and come face-to-face with the horrors of war. Perry begins to questions why black troops are given the most dangerous assignments and why the U.S. is in Vietnam at all.
Review by Krista
Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard
Length: 14 hrs and 39 mins
Narrated By Amanda Dolan
Series: Red Queen, Book 2
Release Date: 02-09-16
If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal
Review by Krista
STONE FIELDby Christy LenziInspired by Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Hardcover: 320 pagesPublisher: Roaring Brook Press (March 29, 2016)Language: English Goodreads | Amazon
A stunning debut novel that offers a new look at a classic love story about soul mates torn apart by the circumstances of their time.Catrina Dickinson is haunted by her past and
Just finished FIFTEEN LANES by S.J. Laidlaw (a.k.a. Susan Laidlaw), which comes out from Tundra Books/Penguin Random House on April 5th, 2016.
An intense and compelling read, FIFTEEN LANES follows the lives of two teenage girls from very different backgrounds. I found parts of the book difficult to get through because I felt so sad for the characters involved (one of the girls is the daughter of a sex worker in Mumbai, growing up in a brothel) but am so glad I kept reading. FIFTEEN addresses tough issues with honesty and hope.
It's no wonder the details and background are well-researched; the author herself works at an NGO facility in India, volunteering with sex workers' daughters in Kamathipura, the largest red-light district in Asia.
Synopsis of FIFTEEN LANES from Tundra Books:"Noor has lived all of her fourteen years in the fifteen lanes of Mumbai’s red light district. Born into a brothel, she is destined for the same fate as her mother: a desperate life trapped in the city’s sex trade. She must act soon to have any chance of escaping this grim future. Across the sprawling city, fifteen-year-old Grace enjoys a life of privilege. Her father, the CEO of one of India’s largest international banks, has brought his family to Mumbai where they live in unparalleled luxury. But Grace’s seemingly perfect life is shattered when she becomes a victim of a cruel online attack. When their paths intersect, Noor and Grace will be changed forever. Can two girls living in vastly different worlds find a common path?
"Award-winning author S.J. Laidlaw masterfully weaves together their stories in a way that resonates across class and culture. Fifteen Lanes boldly explores the ties that bind us to places and people, and shows us that the strongest of bonds can be forged when hope is all but lost."
Review by Sara..
GIRL IN THE BLUE COAT
By Monica Hesse
Hardcover: 320 pages
Published by: Little, Brown (April 5, 2016)
Grades: 9 Up
Goodreads | Amazon
An unforgettable story of bravery, grief, and love in impossible timesThe missing girl is Jewish. I need you to find her before the Nazis do. Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering
Review by Jennifer
THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSESby Bonnie - Sue HitchcockGrade Level: 7 and upLexile Measure: 0960 (What's this?)Hardcover: 240 pagesPublisher: Wendy Lamb Books (February 23, 2016) Goodreads | Amazon
In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. This deeply moving and authentic debut is for fans of Rainbow Rowell, Louise Erdrich,
Review by Sara
Flawed (Flawed #1)by Cecelia AhernAge Range: 12 - 18 yearsHardcover: 336 pagesPublisher: Feiwel & Friends (April 5, 2016)Goodreads | Amazon
Celestine North lives a perfect life. She's a model daughter and sister, she's well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she's dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an
ZERO DAYby Jan GangseiHardcover: 368 pagesPublisher: Disney-Hyperion (January 12, 2016)Language: English Goodreads | Amazon
Eight years ago, Addie Webster was the victim of the most notorious kidnapping of the decade. Addie vanished-and her high-profile parents were forced to move on.
Mark Webster is now president of the United States, fighting to keep the oval office after a
For Connor Bianchini, 16, much of his life has always revolved around his family and the family's restaurant, Mama Lucia's Home Cooking. And he has always known exactly who is - half Irish on his mother's side of the family, half Italian on his father's. But just before Nonna Lucia passed away, she gave Connor's father Tony a ring, some pilot's wings, and a letter explaining the her Italian husband was not his father. His father was an American pilot named Ace, with whom she had an great love affair.
After his father gives him the gold ring, Connor begins thinking about the man who loved his grandmother so much. The ring becomes a reminder for Connor to wonder who he is and it doesn't take long for him to start researching it to try to find his real grandfather's identity. Engraved on the ring are the words The Forcean 1940 and the initials MS, providing a good place to start.
The rest of the Bianchini rally around Tony, providing family support and acceptance of his new half-brother status, but Tony has been thrown quite a loop. With the help of a librarian at the local college, a book called The Forcean, which he thought might be related to the ring, was borrowed through inter-library loan. When the book arrives, it turns out to be a college yearbook from Wilberforce University - one of the historically black colleges and universities (HBCU).
Already depressed over losing his mother and the family's matriarch, Tony has a stroke after finding out that his real father was African American. While he is in the hospital recovering, Connor continues his investigations into his mysterious African American grandfather, and his grandmother great love.
Connor, unlike his half-brother Carlo, immediately embraces his new heritage and decides to write his senior honors paper on the Tuskegee Airmen after discovering that his grandfather had most likely been one, stationed in Italy at one point.
Nonna Lucia left quite a legacy for her family and it is interesting to see how the rest of the family handled it. How would you have handled news that you are not who you think you are?
I have always loved Marilyn Nelson's stories in verse, but this one just didn't do it for me. I would have much preferred a novel about the grandfather, and his experiences both before and after his time as a Tuskegee Airman in Italy and his affair with Nonna Lucia, how he might have dealt with issues around race and prejudice. And while books about biracial families are so needed right now, the Bianchini's just felt too unreal for me, even Connor.
Much of the story revolves around Connor's driving lessons, first with his father and later his mother. Driving is, of course, a nice coming-of-age-entering-adulthood trope. It is Connor who now becomes the caretaker, caring for his father much of the time after his stroke, helping him heal both physically and emotionally and enabling him to come to terms with his new identity with the information he has learned about Tuskegee Airmen for his honors paper.
The part of the book I really did like was the last sections in which we get to read Connor's paper, complete with photographs of actual Tuskegee Airmen, and the only indication of what Connor and his dad are doing in in the chapter heading and yet, it all worked.
Despite my objections, I still think this is a book that should be read by all. And do read the Author's Note at the back of the novel, where Nelson explains how she came to write a novel from the perspective of a white teenage boy.
This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin (2015) Roaring Brook Press
As he did with the spy, Harry Gold, in Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon, Steven Sheinkin uses one man to tell a much larger story in Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War. That man is the infamous leaker of the so-called Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg. A veteran himself, and a former Pentagon employee, Ellsberg initially believed that the war in Vietnam was a noble cause. However, the more he learned, the less he believed so. Eventually, based on the information to which he was privy and the US populace was not, he changed his mind completely.
Whether you believe Edward Snowden to be a patriotic whistleblower or a traitorous leaker, and whether you believe that Apple's refusal to hack into the phone of the San Bernardino murderers is reprehensible or ethical, it cannot be denied that these are weighty matters worthy of national discussion. In the time of Daniel Ellsberg, people read newspapers and watched a generally unbiased nightly newscast. In contrast, many people today derive their news from "sound bites," political analysts, and partisan news stations. These issues deserve more thoughtful consideration.
While Most Dangerous is an excellently researched biographical and historical account, and can be appreciated for that aspect alone, Steve Sheinkin's book also will also promote reflection on the nature of national security, personal privacy, democracy, freedom of the press, and foreign intervention. We have been on very similar ground before.
"They all drove to the Capitol for the traditional outdoor inauguration ceremony. Johnson watched Nixon take the oath of office, wondering what lay ahead. "I reflected on how inadequate any man is for the office of the American Presidency," he later recalled. "The magnitude of the job dwarfs every man who aspires to it.""
"He had often heard antiwar protesters shouting that Americans were fighting on the wrong side of the Vietnam War. They were missing the point. "It wasn't that we were on the wrong side," Ellsberg concluded, "We were the wrong side.""
FBI agents began questioning the Ellsbergs friends and relatives. They even attempted to obtain Patricia Ellsberg's dental records, but her dentist refused to cooperate. Nixon's operatives broke into the office of Daniel Ellsberg's doctor in a failed attempt to steal his medical records. They were searching for anything to use in a campaign to discredit Ellsberg.
"Psychologically, it's not so bothersome, because we believe in what we're doing," Patricia Ellsberg said about the feeling of being watched by one's own government. "But I think it's troublesome for the country that there is surveillance of citizens, and that the right of privacy is being threatened."
I was really excited to get INTO THE DIM by Janet B. Taylor in the mail. I love books about time travel, and this cover looked really great. When I read the description and it takes place in Scotland, I was really intrigued. HELLO! Outlander for teens?? Yes!
But there have been quite a few things as I've been reading, made me think that this book isn't going to be for me. The first
Review by Elisa
by Veronica RossiPublisher: Tor Teen (February 16, 2016)Publication Date: February 16, 2016 Sold by: Macmillan
Goodreads | Amazon
eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake, nothing but death can keep him from
achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it
Recovering from the accident that most definitely
killed him, Gideon finds himself
Every now and then, Anthony Lane, The New Yorker movie critic, will go in for the YA kill. He did it here, in his review of the movie "If I Stay," based on the Gayle Forman novel. And he did it again, just a few weeks ago, in his review of "The Fifth Wave."
"The film is directed by J. Blakeson and adapted—though perhaps not adapted enough—from the novel by Rick Yancey. In other words, we are in the belly of young-adult fiction: a marketing wheeze dressed up as an art form...."
We have to hand it to Lane for the crisp cleverness of his phraseology. But I think we also have to ask: Is marketing wheeze how the YA category began, what it now is, what it is becoming, or simply an easy (outmoded) mode of attack?
The only way to defend this category from future Lane-isms is to write our stories unclassifiably well.
Review by Elisa
THE GOLDEN YARN
By Cornelia Funke
Series: MirrorWorld #3
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Breathing Books (December 1, 2015)
Goodreads | Amazon
Jacob Reckless continues to travel the portal in his father's abandoned study. His name has continued to be famous on the other side of the mirror, as a finder of enchanted items and buried secrets. His family and
In 2011, the year I began this blog, I took part in a month of bloggers/authors connecting with one another through a whole host of activities. As part of this, I chose to participate in the book launch for an … Continue reading →
In 2005, the United Nations issued a declaration stating that January 27th would be designated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It only seems fitting to remember the victims of the Holocaust with a new book
about the secret annex where Anne Frank, her family and four other people hid from the Nazis in the annex of her father's business at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam for more than two years.
Anne is a young girl whose short life has resonated in the lives of so many young people since her diary was first published. The Diary of a Young Girl. It is a moving account of Anne's life in the Annex, in which readers discover Anne's humorous side, her mischievous side, her budding sexuality, her hopes and dreams.
But Anne wasn't alone and although she mentions names and incidents in her diary, what do we really know about the other people in the Annex? Or the helpers on the outside? What did the people in the annex do all day? What did they eat? Where did their food and other needed items come from?
The decision to hide from the Nazis, to live in such close quarters for more than 2 years, from July 1942 to August 1944, couldn't have been an easy one to make and definitely requited a plan, detailed organization, and the help of trusted people who could provide them with food and other necessities.
Anne Frank in the Secret Annex: Who Was Who is a comprehensive book that brings it all together so that we may understand the risks and dangers everyone connected to Prinsengracht 263 faced on a daily basis.
The book begins with a very brief history of post WWI Germany, Adolf Hitler's rise to becoming the German chancellor in 1933, blaming the Jews for all of the country's problems. Otto Frank immediately decided to leave Germany and settle in the Netherlands. There he set up his business at Prinsengracht 263. But in 1940, after Germany invaded the Netherlands, they immediately put anti-Jewish regulations in place, making life harder and harder for all Jews living there, until, in 1942, Otto Frank moved his family once again - directly into hiding.
The book continues with description of the daily routine of the hiders, food and it distribution, and other daily discomforts, how holidays and birthdays were celebrated. Even a detailed description of the building they were hiding in.
This is followed with detailed biographies of all the people in hiding, those that helped them, other people who worked in or around Prinsengracht 263, even the cats are included. Any one of those peripheral people could have (and may have) turned in the people in the annex to the Nazis if they became aware of their presence.
Anne Frank and her diary have held the attention of readers, young and old, since it was first published, but the publication of Anne Frank in the Secret Annex: Who Was Who? gives readers a more detailed, more rounded out picture of who each individual was, making them more human and less the shadowy people we know from the diary.
It's hard to imagine what it must have been like to be cut off from everyone and everything for more than two years, never going outside, never even breathing fresh air from an open window, and living in silence day by day. This is an ideal book to be used in conjunction with Anne's diary as a way of introducing the Holocaust to young readers.
The book also contains an abundance of photographs, some never before published of everyone and everything related to the secret annex, including photos of all the helpers. There are also maps, including one of the concentration camps that the hiders were sent to after being discovered, a Concise Timeline along with the Lifeline of helpers and hiders, and a useful Glossary, a list of Sources, and suggestions for further reading.
Anne Frank in the Secret Annex: Who Was Who? is available only as an ebook.
And on this 2016 International Holocaust Remembrance Day, please take a moment today to think about all those who were victims of this tragedy, those who didn't survive as well as those who did.
This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was sent to me by the publisher, Open Road Media
Curious about Anne Frank in the Secret Annex: Who Was Who? Here's an excerpt you can read:
“Daily Life in the Secret Annex”
“At a quarter to seven, the alarm clock went off in the Secret Annex. The eight occupants would get up and wash before the warehouse workers arrived at half past eight. After that, they had to keep noise to a minimum. They walked in slippers, avoided the creaking stairs, and didn’t use any running water. Coughing, sneezing, laughing, talking, or quarreling was absolutely forbidden. To kill time, the eight would spend the morning reading and studying. Some did needlework, while others prepared the next meal. Miep, working in the office on the first floor, along with Johannes, Victor, and Bep, would go upstairs to the Secret Annex to pick up the shopping list.
“It’s twelve thirty. The whole gang breathes a sigh of relief,” Anne wrote. At noon, the warehouse workers went home for lunch and the annex occupants could relax a little. The helpers from the office usually dropped in, and Jan Gies sometimes joined them. At one o’clock, they all listened to the BBC on the illegal “little baby radio” before having lunch. After the lunch break, the helpers went back downstairs and most of the occupants took naps. Anne often “used this time to write in her diary. Silence prevailed for the rest of the afternoon: Potatoes were peeled, quiet chores done for the office, and reading and studying continued, while below, the helpers worked in the office. Miep and Bep would slip out during the afternoon or after office hours to work their way through the shopping list, which usually included food, clothing, soap, and even birthday presents.
When the warehouse workers left at around half past five, Bep gave the occupants a sign. As the helpers returned to their own spouses or families, the Secret Annex came to life: Someone would grab the warehouse key and fetch the bread, typewriters were carried upstairs, potatoes were set to boil, and the cat door in the coal storage bin was opened for Peter’s cat, Mouschi. Everyone had his or her own task. After dinner, they sometimes played a game. At around nine o’clock, the occupants prepared for bed, with much shuffling of chairs and “the folding open of beds. They took turns going to the bathroom. Anne, being the youngest, went first. Fritz stayed up late studying Spanish in the office downstairs. By about midnight, all of the people in the Secret Annex would be fast asleep.
On Saturday mornings, the warehouse workers would put in half a day’s work, but in the afternoons and on Sundays, the Secret Annex occupants took time for a full sponge baths in a tub, each in his or her own favorite spot in the building. The laundry was done then, too, and the Secret Annex was scrubbed and tidied. There were businesses located in the two adjacent buildings, so during the weekends, the occupants didn’t have to be quite so cautious. But the curtains always remained closed.”
More Curious about Who Was Who?
Five anecdotes behind the faces of the Secret Annex
• While everyone was assigned chores, Peter was instructed to haul the heavy bags from the greengrocer up to the attic. On one occasion, “one of them suddenly split open and a torrent of brown beans went cascading down the stairs. It was weeks before the last beans were found, they had been wedged into every nook and cranny of the stairwell.”
• The Annex’s Romeo and Juliet: Anne Frank’s roommate and the eldest occupant of the Secret Annex, Fritz Pfeffer - the only one without family or loved one at his side - was gripped with loneliness. His evenings were filled with writing letters to his “Lotte,” his great love Charlotte Kaletta, a Catholic woman whom he was forbidden to marry due to the Nuremberg Race Laws. He relied on Miep to serve as messenger to deliver the letters where he professed that Charlotte’s love will strengthen him.
• Miep was deemed the pack mule and carrier pigeon for the eight inhabitants of the Secret Annex. “Every Saturday, she also brought along five library books, which the Secret Annex occupants eagerly looked forward to. ‘Ordinary people don’t know how much books can mean to someone who’s cooped up,’ Anne wrote.”
• After the betrayal that led to the Secret Annex’s exposure and the inhabitants’ arrest, the ladies were sent to Westerbork transit camp where they “were forced to dismantle batteries, a dirty and dangerous business. The workday began at five o’clock in the morning. Seated at long tables, the women broke open batteries in order to remove the carbon rods. Then they picked out the sticky brown mass, which contained poisonous ammonium chloride. Finally, all the components were separated for use in the arms industry.”
• When Frank Otto, Anne’s father and lone survivor, returned to the Secret Annex, he “found the rooms practically empty and abandoned. For him, that emptiness symbolized the loss of his fellow sufferers who had not returned from the camps. For this reason, Otto later decided that the Secret Annex should remain this state.”
REVENGE AND THE WILD
By Michelle Modesto
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (February 2, 2016)
Age Range: 14 up
Grade Level: 9 up
Goodreads | Amazon
The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter
It's June 1964 and Sara Barry, 18, has been living at the Benevolent Home for Necessitous Girls ever since she was a baby. But now, after a fire completely destroys the building, it is time for Sara to strike out on her own. Before she does that, Mrs. Hazelton, the home's matron, decides it is time for Sara to discover who she is. All she has to give Sara is a certificate from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, a doctor's note written in a foreign language and a small Star of David on a chain.
It seems that Sara's mother, whose name was Karen Frankel, had been in Auschwitz, had actually survived until the camp was liberated, but then succumbed to TB in a DP or displaced persons camp shortly afterwards. Sara was born in Germany soon after the war ended, and sent to the home in Canada. Her Jewish background is a complete surprise to her.
Now, armed with the $138.00 gift from Mrs. Hazelton and her own savings from her waitress job, Sara decides to go to Germany and try to find the doctor who signed the certificate that sent her to Canada. Perhaps he has some information about her mother and father.
Arriving in Germany, Sara immediately heads to Föhrenwald, site of the former DP camp and easily locates Dr. Gunther Pearlman, the doctor who had certified her healthy to travel, even though she actually had TB as well. But as soon as the doctor sees the papers she has with her, he turns on her and tells Sara to get out and go back to Canada, he has no information that would help her. Dr. Pearlman does make a one night reservation at a small inn run by an older lady named Frau Klein, and asks his helper, Peter, a boy around the same age as Sara, to escort her there.
Dr. Pearlman may want Sara to leave the next day, but Sara has other plans and with Peter's help, and Frau Klein's kindness, she decides to stay for the rest of the week. Luckily, Peter speaks perfect English (as does Dr. Pearlman), so he can translate for her. Sara quickly discovers that Föhrenwald is still home to many Jewish survivors and their children, including Frau Klein, the doctor and Peter's parents.
But uncovering information about her parents isn't easy in the country that just wants to forget about what had happened there. Yet, perseverance does pay off and while all the loose ends are neatly tied up by the end of the novel, some of what Sara discovers is difficult for her to accept, and I have to admit, I wasn't expecting the ending to twist the way it did.
I found this is a very interesting example of a post-war historical fiction novel. By setting it in the 1960s, Kathy Kacer shows the reader a world that wants to forget what happened, others who, like Sara, really don't know about what happened under Hitler's tyranny, even as racial prejudice is still openly practiced. Mrs. Hazelton didn't keep Sara's Jewish identity secret because she didn't like Jews, but because she wanted to protect her from any lingering anti-Semetism. And Luke, Sara's loser boyfriend in Canada, proves the point, with his hatred of Jews and blacks, seen in the way he goes after Sara's friend Malou.
Stone on a Grave is an emotional, insightful novel about a young woman trying to discover who she really is. It was named a 2016 Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Reader category and I am happy to say that I will be interviewing Kathy Kacer as part of the Sydney Taylor Blog Tour February 11, 2016 on my blog Randomly Reading. You can find a complete list of winners and the blog tour schedule HERE
Be sure to read the Author's Note for more information about the aftermath of the Holocaust.
In the Benevolent Home, Sara was one of a group of girls Mrs. Hazelton considered to be her "special seven." Like Sara, each girl is given whatever information Mrs. Hazelton has about who they really are, plus $138.00 she had put aside for them to start them on their way. Sara's story is part of a seven book YA series called Secrets that follows each girl on their journey towards self-discovery. Each novel is written by a different author, providing a variety of stories and insights.
This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was purchased for my personal library
The Smell of Other People’s Houses
by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Middle School, High School Lamb/Random 228 pp.
2/16 978-0-553-49778-6 $17.99
Library ed. 978-0-553-49779-3 $20.99 g
e-book ed. 978-0-553-49780-9 $10.99
Through sensory details that viscerally evoke the story’s physical and emotional landscapes, readers are transported to 1970s Birch Park, Alaska, where hunting and fishing are both livelihood and way of life for most families. As the book’s title suggests, richly described scents are pervasive. Sixteen-year-old Ruth associates the smell of freshly cut deer meat with her happy early-childhood home, in sharp contrast to the clinical, Lemon Pledge–clean of Gran’s house, where she and her sister have been raised in rigid austerity since their father’s death. A wealthy family’s lake house smells of cedar, while the heavily trafficked Goodwill “smells like everyone’s mud room in spring…moldy and sweaty.” Four distinct first-person narrative voices — no small feat — breathe life into the adolescent protagonists, whose engaging individual stories, thematically linked by loss and yearning throughout the seasons, are enriched by their intersections. Escaping her alcoholic father’s abuse and mother’s neglect, Dora finds a welcome haven in the bustling energy of Dumpling’s family’s fish camp. A few stolen nights with handsome Ray Stevens lands Ruth scared, alone, and pregnant on a bus to Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow, an abbey with unexpected ties to her family. While some character crossings strain credulity, all the story lines are grounded in emotional honesty.
Facing illness, sexuality, family issues, and life-and-death situations, the following teen protagonists maturely and deeply explore the world around them while also looking within themselves.
Until the hospital called, asking her mother to pick up elderly Mary, seventeen-year-old Katie — star of Jenny Downham’s Unbecoming — didn’t even know she had a grandmother. Katie, her brother, and their mum bring home Mary, who is suffering from dementia. As Katie learns more about her grandmother’s and mother’s pasts, she struggles with her own secret: she is pretty certain she is gay. Told from a limited third-person perspective, the book offers implicit commentary on the historical and contemporary constraints on young women’s lives and their freedom to love freely. (Scholastic/Fickling, 14 years and up)
In Kate McGovern’s Rules for 50/50 Chances, Rose’s mom has advanced Huntington’s disease and Caleb’s mom and little sisters have sickle cell disease. The teens meet at the annual Walk for Rare Genes fundraiser, and their immediate attraction soon develops into something more meaningful. Rose spends much of the novel locked in indecision about whether or not to be tested for the Huntington’s gene, and what the results will mean for her future plans: college, a dance career, a relationship with Caleb. Rose’s realistically confused and complex anger and grief about her mother’s decline adds poignancy to the teen’s dilemma. (Farrar, 14 years and up)
In Instructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain, Nicole’s father is a survivalist who believes wilderness skills are the surest protection from a dangerous world. When Dad decides to leave the grid altogether, moving the family to a ramshackle forest homestead, Mom balks and runs off. Dad goes after her, leaving Nicole and her younger sister, Izzy, behind. Nicole worries about Izzy’s involvement with teens living at a nearby commune; at the same time a brooding resident there named Wolf stirs up her own rebellious yearnings. Most chapters feature multiple narrators (Nicole, Izzy, Wolf, and others), but Nicole’s voice provides a steady through line to follow her genuine and compelling struggle. (St. Martin’s Griffin, 14 years and up)
Sensory details (especially scents) evoke the physical and emotional landscape — 1970s Birch Park, Alaska — in Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock’s The Smell of Other People’s Houses. Four distinct first-person narrative voices breathe life into the adolescent protagonists. Escaping her alcoholic father’s abuse, Dora finds a welcome haven in Dumpling’s family’s fish camp. A few stolen nights with handsome Ray Stevens leaves sixteen-year-old Ruth pregnant and alone. The characters’ engaging individual stories, thematically linked by loss and yearning, are enriched by the tales’ intersections, and are grounded in emotional honesty. (Random/Lamb, 14 years and up)