ALA’s Youth Media Awards

Today I watched the complete webcast of ALA’s Youth Media Awards, and I was very happy. For the first time since the 2010 awards, both the Caldecott winner and the Newbery winner were Sonderbooks Stand-outs. And the winner of our library’s fledgling Mock Newbery Book Club vote got a Newbery Honor!

Although there were a lot of books I loved that didn’t appear, I am completely happy with the ones that did. Let me go through the lists, giving my reaction.

First, let me also say that I’m way behind in posting reviews. Tonight I blitzed through a stack and wrote 7 reviews, but now I have 69 reviews I’ve written that I still need to post. That’s down from 99 such reviews in December, but it’s still a daunting task, and I confess I’m letting a lot more books I read go unreviewed.

So my plan is to finish posting all the reviews of Sonderbooks Stand-outs tomorrow or the next day. Then I’ll tackle some of these award winners that I’ve already reviewed but not posted.

Let me go through the major awards, in the order they were announced. You can find all the award winners listed at Please, if you’re reading this, I’d love to hear your own reactions. Which of the books have you read? Any big disappointments? Special thrills?

I haven’t read any of the Alex Awards, so I won’t go through those. Some I’d meant to read, so they make my To Be Read list longer.

I haven’t read any of the Schneider Family winners, though A Dog Called Homeless, by Sarah Lean, was chosen to be a Summer Reading Program selection for our library system.

Some people expressed surprise and disappointment that Wonder didn’t receive a Schneider Family Award. But I don’t think it was actually eligible. The Schneider Family Award is given “for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience,” and Auggie in Wonder mentions many times that he actually doesn’t have any disability — just a deformed face.

I’ve read one of the Stonewall Honor books, Drama, by Raina Telgemeier. I’ll post my review soon.

I’m kicking myself about the Stonewall Award Winner, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Because at an ALA conference I’d accidentally picked up not one, but two Advance Review Copies. But I didn’t get around to reading it before it was published, and I’ve given both copies away. Oh well!

For the Coretta Scott King Awards, I was happy about the Illustrator Honor for I Have a Dream, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. I’ll post my review of that soon. I’ve also read the Illustrator Winner, I, Too, Am America, illustrated by Brian Collier, which is a Capitol Choices selection, and I think it’s a wonderful choice.

I’ve read the CSK Author Honor books, but not the winner. I’ll post the review soon of No Crystal Stair, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. I wasn’t a fan of its Newbery chances, but I do think it’s an outstanding book, and am happy it got some honor today.

The Margaret Edwards Award winner for her body of work is Tamora Pierce. I read the Song of the Lioness quartet before I started reviewing books, and I’m happy about this choice. I will definitely plan to attend the Margaret Edwards Luncheon again this year.

For the Morris Award, the only one of the Finalists I’ve read, Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman, was the winner, and I’m very happy about that.

I’m currently in the middle of reading Bomb, which was first mentioned today as the winner of the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award. I wasn’t surprised, because it’s gotten great buzz on the Heavy Medal blog. I’ve read all the other Finalists, and in fact they are all Sonderbooks Stand-outs in Children’s Nonfiction except for Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different. Those Finalists were Moonbird, by Phillip Hoose; Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, by Deborah Hopkinson; and We’ve Got a Job, by Cynthia Levinson

I got a kick out of the Odyssey Honor for the audiobookGhost Knight, by Cornelia Funke. This was a book under consideration for the Cybils shortlist by my committee, and I was the only one who listened to it instead of reading it. I was a much bigger fan of the book than anyone else, and I think I was probably swayed by the wonderful audio recording.

I was also happy about the Odyssey Award Winner, The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. Though I haven’t listened to the audio version, I loved the book, and the audiobook is a Capitol Choices selection this year.

Then came the Printz. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was an Honor book, so I again kicked myself for not having read it.

My favorite book of the year, Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein, did get a Printz Honor. And though I can’t fathom another book being better than it, I haven’t actually read the Printz winner or any of the other Printz Honors, so I have to reserve my righteous indignation and be happy that it did receive Honor.

I haven’t read any of the Pura Belpre honor books, but again Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was the big winner, so I received more kicks from myself.

The Arbuthnot lecture will be given by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Wouldn’t that be fun to attend!

I haven’t read any of the Batchelder winners.

The Sibert Medal almost completely overlapped with the ENYA Award. The Honor books were Electric Ben, by Robert Byrd (which I haven’t read completely but is a Summer Reading Program selection for our library system); Moonbird, by Phillip Hoose; and Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, by Deborah Hopkinson. The winner was (again) Bomb, by Steve Sheinkin.

The Wilder Medal for lifetime achievement was given to Katherine Paterson. Wonderful choice!

The Geisel Awards had my biggest disappointment. I wanted to see Penny and Her Song or Penny and Her Doll, by Kevin Henkes represented, and was sad that they weren’t. However, I was particularly happy with two of the Honor books, Let’s Go For a Drive! by Mo Willems (I always love his books), and Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, by Eric Litwin, which was a 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out.

And then came the biggies, the longest-established awards. For the Caldecott, I’ve read and appreciated Extra Yarn illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett (despite the upside-down knitting needles), Creepy Carrots, illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds; One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo, and Sleep Like a Tiger, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue. I count myself a fan of Green, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, and that review will be forthcoming. But the winner, This Is Not My Hat, by Jon Klassen, was a Sonderbooks Stand-out and one of my favorite picture books of the year. Almost everyone at my library has read it already, because I pushed it on them.

And finally, my happiness overflowed with the Newbery announcements. I thought Splendors & Glooms had some flaws, but had to admit that the writing was outstanding, so I think it’s Honor was well-deserved. Bomb made its third appearance of the day, so I’m glad I’m currently reading it. But I was especially happy about the third Honor book, Three Times Lucky, because that was the selection of our library’s Mock Newbery Book Club. I had thought we’d picked a longshot, so I was so happy to see it up there. I wrote its review today, and will post it soon.

And the Newbery Medal winner? The wonderful The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate. When I first read The One and Only Ivan, I hoped it would win the Newbery. Since reading it, it got edged out in my hopes by Summer of the Gypsy Moths and Palace of Stone, but discussion on Heavy Medal and in Capitol Choices convinced me that those books probably weren’t serious contenders, so my hopes were riding on The One and Only Ivan again. So happy that those hopes were realized!

How about you? Which choices made you happiest? Which omissions made you saddest? Which books are hitting the top of your TBR piles? I’d love to keep discussing….

Mock Newbery Results

Today at the City of Fairfax Regional Library, we had our first annual Mock Newbery voting. The idea is to figure out which children’s book published in 2012 we think was most distinguished.

The winner is:

Three Times Lucky, by Sheila Turnage

Participants commented on the distinctive voice, and that it showed character growth, besides having a plot that included a murder mystery with twists and turns. I didn’t read Three Times Lucky in 2012, so it didn’t make my 2012 Sonderbooks Stand-outs, but it may well make my list for 2013.

We chose two Honor Books:

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

Summer of the Gypsy Moths, by Sara Pennypacker

We’re all waiting eagerly to see which books will win the official Newbery Medal on January 28!

Review of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

by Rae Carson

Greenwillow Books, 2011. 423 pages.
Starred Review
2012 Morris Award Finalist

This is an impressive debut fantasy novel. The author builds a complex, realistic world, and stands a few fantasy conventions on their heads.

For example, where usually you have the heroine not wanting an arranged marriage because the intended is old and ugly, here’s how this book opens:

“Prayer candles flicker in my bedroom. The Scriptura Sancta lies discarded, pages crumpled, on my bed. Bruises mark my knees from kneeling on the tiles, and the Godstone in my navel throbs. I have been praying — no, begging — that King Alejandro de Vega, my future husband, will be ugly and old and fat.

“Today is the day of my wedding. It is also my sixteenth birthday.”

Elisa is the Chosen One. The whole world knows because of the Godstone in her navel. And her god communicates with her through the Godstone. There are prophecies about her.

One thing I like about this is that no one agrees on what the prophecies actually mean. That seems completely realistic, after all. If there were a prophecy, isn’t it likely that whole factions would have different beliefs about what that prophecy means, about what the Chosen One can do for them?

Elisa’s an unlikely heroine, too. She loves to eat, and is overweight and lazy, at least until circumstances force her to change. This book involves war, state politics, danger, adventure, romance, and even religion.

The biggest thing I didn’t like about this book involved my personal prejudice against present tense novels. Most of the time, the story was able to overcome that so I didn’t notice, but not all the time.

Still, Rae Carson built a fascinating world with this book, and the story is clearly not finished. I will definitely want to read this book again when the sequel comes out and spend more time with these characters.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of Everybody Sees the Ants, by A. S. King

Everybody Sees the Ants

by A. S. King

Little, Brown, and Company, 2011. 282 pages.
2011 Cybils Finalist
Starred Review

Since he was seven years old, Lucky Linderman has dreamed about his grandfather, who was Missing in Action in Vietnam so many years ago that Lucky’s father never had his father around. These dreams are dream-like, with dream-like impossible things happening in them. But when Lucky wakes up, he has things in his hand that he was holding during the dream. His grandfather gives him a cigar, for example, and he’s holding it when he wakes up. If he steps in mud, he’s dirty when he wakes up.

That’s not why Lucky’s gotten in trouble at school, though. Here’s how he explains what happened:

All I did was ask a stupid question.

Six months ago I was assigned the standard second-semester freshman social studies project at Freddy High: Create a survey, evaluate data, graph data, express conclusion in a two-hundred-word paper. This was an easy A. I thought up my question and printed out 120 copies.

The question was: If you were going to commit suicide, what method would you choose?

This was a common conversation topic between Nader (shotgun in the mouth), Danny (jump in front of a speeding truck) and me (inhaling car fumes), and we’d been joking about it for months during seventh-period study hall. I never saw anything bad in it. That kind of stuff made Nader laugh. And Nader laughing at my jokes meant maybe I could get through high school with less shrapnel.

I think you can see why this survey led to “concern,” but the fallout also leads to bullying. And he gets some answers to his survey from surprising places.

As the book continues, Lucky deals with more bullying and a trip with his Mom to Arizona to stay with his mother’s brother and wife, crazy Aunt Jodi. All the while, he’s dealing with these dreams that are somehow real. And the ants? Well, the ants are a sort of Greek chorus that Lucky sees, who watch and comment on his every move.

They first appear when he’s being bullied:

Ants appear on the concrete in front of me. Dancing ants. Smiling ants. Ants having a party. One tells me to hang on. Don’t worry, kid! he says, holding up a martini glass. It’ll be over in a minute!

All of this may sound strange, and it is. The book is strange, and the phenomena are never explained. But somehow it all adds up to a powerful and moving story about a boy growing up and learning to face tough things. By the end of the book, you’re completely on the side of Lucky Linderman, and confident that he’s going to make it through high school.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Conference Corner — Morris Awards and YALSA Nonfiction Awards

The final event of ALA Midwinter Meeting that I attended was the Morris Award and YALSA Nonfiction Award ceremony. I like the way those two awards announce a short list, so that the winners can be there for the ceremony. This year, it turned out that Morris Award Winner John Corey Whaley also won the Printz Award. He was a happy man. I spotted him in the exhibits after the award announcements.

Those are the Morris Award stickers for his book.

Of course, I had to get a picture with him, as did many other youth services librarians. We wanted him to know that to us, he’s a rock star.

At the Award ceremony, some of the authors spoke by video, but I took notes for the ones who spoke in person.

First was Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Morris Honor winning author of Under the Mesquite:
She got the news of winning the Honor while teaching, which was so appropriate, because she wrote the book while teaching.
She remembered being hungry for understanding. Books showed the world to her, empowered her.
She wrote, not to be published, but to be read.
She wrote this story for young people who can’t talk about this. They have great strength within them.
The most important destination of all: Young Readers’ Minds
ala means “wings” in Spanish. So appropriate!

Ruta Sepetys, Honor winner for Between Shades of Gray:
History has secrets.
Through stories, these people become human.

John Corey Whaley, Morris Award Winner for Where Things Come Back (He also learned on the same day that he won the Printz Award.):
Thursday was his birthday. He feels sorry for all his other birthdays.
“I get to be a writer. It means so much to say that.”
“My life is a constant state of shock.”
“There’s no other community I’d rather be part of than the People of YA.”
“…the cool kids who run into things because they’re walking while reading books.”
“I had given up hope that I could be a happy adult.”

Then were the YALSA Awards for Excellence in Nonfiction:

Karen Blumenthal, Honor Award for Bootleg:
One of the strengths of nonfiction: Real stories and real consequences.
“Nonfiction provides a context for a complicated world.”
“In real life, the girl doesn’t always end up with the sparkly vampire.”
The world isn’t black and white, but many shades of messy.
Those who passively observe get to live with the results.

Sue Macy, Honor Award for Wheels of Change
As a teen, her favorite books were This Fabulous Century. She imitated these books.
She takes a thematic approach to this era of history.
There was lots of serendipity in her search.

Steve Sheinkin, Award Winner for The Notorious Benedict Arnold
“Benedict Arnold made people nervous.”
This is a straight-ahead action-adventure rise and fall story.

Afterward, we were given free copies of many of the books and got them signed. Here’s Sue Macy signing Wheels of Change:

This award ceremony isn’t nearly as fancy as the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet or as the Printz Reception, but I think with first-time authors winning the Morris Award, and nonfiction authors who don’t always get as much recognition, it’s guaranteed that the Morris and Nonfiction award ceremony will always be deeply heartfelt.

Review of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

by E. Lockhart

Hyperion, New York, 2008. 345 pages.
2009 Printz Honor Book
Starred Review

I took an online course about the Printz Award, and the course finally got me to read this wonderful book.

Frankie’s father is sending her to the exclusive prep school where he attended. Her Dad still meets with his buddies and talks about their secret society, the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. Unfortunately, it was only for men, so he can’t reveal to Frankie where they hid their record of their escapades, The Disreputable History.

When Frankie’s new boyfriend invites her to a party after curfew and the invitation has a seal with a picture of a basset hound, it’s pretty easy for her to figure out what he’s up to. She doesn’t like it when he won’t tell her anything about his involvement. He thinks of her as a pretty little thing, and that what he does with his friends shouldn’t concern her.

Here’s the letter that opens The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks:

“To: Headmaster Richmond and the Board of Directors, Alabaster Preparatory Academy

“I, Frankie Landau-Banks, hereby confess that I was the sole mastermind behind the mal-doings of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. I take full responsibility for the disruptions caused by the Order — including the Library Lady, the Doggies in the Window, the Night of a Thousand Dogs, the Canned Beet Rebellion, and the abduction of the Guppy.

“That is, I wrote the directives telling everyone what to do.

“I, and I alone.

“No matter what Porter Welsch told you in his statement.

“Of course, the dogs of the Order are human beings with free will,. They contributed their labor under no explicit compunction. I did not threaten them or coerce them in any way, and if they chose to follow my instructions, it was not because they feared retribution.

“You have requested that I provide you with their names. I respectfully decline to do so. It’s not for me to pugn or impugn their characters.

“I would like to point out that many of the Order’s escapades were intended as social criticism. And that many of the Order’s members were probably diverted from more self-destructive behaviors by the activities prescribed them by me. So maybe my actions contributed to a larger good, despite the inconveniences you, no doubt, suffered.

“I do understand the administration’s disgruntlement over the incidents. I see that my behavior disrupted the smooth running of your patriarchal establishment. And yet I would like to suggest that you view each of the Loyal Order’s projects with the gruntlement that should attend the creative civil disobedience of students who are politically aware and artistically expressive.

“I am not asking that you indulge my behavior; merely that you do not dulge it without considering its context.

“Yours sincerely,

“Frances Rose Landau-Banks”

How does Frankie manage to out-prank the pranksters? What are these intriguingly named escapades? In what sense were they social activism? And what happens when she pulls them off?

All is revealed in this delightful book. It’s amazing how gripping the plot is, even when you’re told what happens right at the outset. You can’t help but love Frankie and will keep reading to see what clever stunt she accomplishes next, and if her boyfriend and his buddies will learn to take her seriously. Along the way, she has lots to say about our patriarchal society.

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Review of Charles and Emma, by Deborah Heiligman

Charles and Emma

The Darwins’ Leap of Faith

Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2009. 268 pages.
Starred Review
2010 Winner YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award
2009 National Book Award Finalist
2010 Printz Honor Book

Okay, when this book first came out, I wasn’t too interested. I grew up in a conservative Christian family, and didn’t exactly see Charles Darwin as a hero. Then the book kept winning awards, and got strong comments from the judges in School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books. I thought I really should read it. Then I met Deborah Heiligman at the 2010 ALA Annual Conference. When I found out why she wrote it, I knew I had to read it. I purchased a book and got her signature. However, it still took me until this year, when I was taking a class on the Printz Award, to finally get it read.

Deborah explains in the Acknowledgments at the back of the book how her husband got her interested in the story that would become this book:

“Jon’s been writing about science and evolution since we met. I had just graduated from college with a major in religious studies. We started talking immediately — about science and religion and writing and pretty much everything else — and we haven’t stopped since.

“One day, about seven years ago, Jon said to me, ‘You know, Charles Darwin’s wife was religious.’ I looked at him. He continued, ‘And they loved each other very much. She was afraid he would go to hell and they wouldn’t be together for eternity.'”

Evolution is supposed to be opposed to Christianity, right? So how is it possible that Charles Darwin’s wife was deeply religious — and yet the two were very much in love.

Deborah Heiligman tells the love story of Charles and Emma Darwin beautifully. It’s clearly a work of nonfiction — she relies heavily on letters and journals and notebooks written by the two of them — but it reads like a novel. Of course, in a story book, the marriage probably wouldn’t have worked. I found it especially interesting that Charles’ father advised him not to tell his new wife about his doubts about religion. But Charles couldn’t hide them from her. And she loved him anyway and even edited his books, including The Origin of Species.

This book tells the story of how Charles Darwin’s scientific theories developed, but it especially shows us the man who loved his wife and children very much. And whatever your views, you can’t help but fall for the man presented here, and the wife who provided exactly what he needed to be such a distinguished scientist.

This book is wonderfully presented. I like the quotations at the head of each chapter and the way Deborah Heiligman has arranged the facts in such an interesting manner. This book presents a compelling story that is all the more amazing because it’s true.

“You will be forming theories about me & if I am cross or out of temper you will only consider ‘What does that prove.’ Which will be a very grand & philosophical way of considering it. — Emma to Charles, January 23, 1839”

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Review of Heart and Soul, by Kadir Nelson

Heart and Soul

The Story of America and African Americans

by Kadir Nelson

Balzer & Bray, 2011. 108 pages.
2012 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner
2012 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
2012 Battle of the Kids’ Books Contender
Starred Review

Kadir Nelson’s paintings, as usual, are stunningly beautiful in this book. His use of light makes the people seem warm and alive.

In this book, he takes the voice of an old woman whose family has been in America from the start. She talks about the slaves who fought in the Revolutionary War. Then she talks about her grandfather, Pap, who was born in Africa, captured in 1850 when he was only six years old, and brought to America. She traces all the changes Pap saw — The Civil War, Reconstruction, moving West, the Great Migration, and through the Depression and the Second World War. She talks about the Civil Rights Movement as she saw it herself, and finishes up with an Epilogue that includes these paragraphs:

“Forty-five years after Dr. King spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I marched my old legs to the polls along with millions of other Americans to vote in an historic election. It was the first time that an African American — Barack Obama — had won the Democratic nomination and appeared on the national ballot for president of the United States. As I cast my vote, I thought about my grandfather Pap, who didn’t live to see this moment, and my three children and two brothers, who did; I thought about my mother and father, and my aunts and uncles; I thought about Abe Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman; I thought about presidents Kennedy and Johnson, Dr. King, Thurgood Marshall, the Freedom Riders, the marchers, and all the people who lived and died so that I might walk into this booth and cast my vote. I thought about them all and smiled; and as I walked away, I closed my eyes and said, ‘Thank you.’

“Our centuries-long struggle for freedom and equal rights had helped make the American promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness a reality for all Americans. We have come a mighty long way, honey, and we still have a good ways to go, but that promise and the right to fight for it is worth every ounce of its weight in gold. It is our nation’s heart and soul.”

The words alone of this book make a grand, sweeping story of African-American contributions to American life, but combined with the paintings, this book has majesty.

Kadir Nelson’s art continues to be breathtaking. He shows you the dignity and beauty of his subjects.

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Review of Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos

Dead End in Norvelt

by Jack Gantos

Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 2011. 341 pages.
Starred Review
2012 Newbery Medal

It’s refreshing to read a book set in the Sixties that is not about the Cuban Missile Crisis or Vietnam! This book is about a kid’s strange and interesting summer. It’s surprising how much fun our hero Jack Gantos has, considering that he’s grounded the whole summer. Or at least, we readers have fun reading about it.

The most interesting things happen because Jack is asked to help his neighbor, the ancient Miss Volker. Miss Volker has terrible arthritis, so she needs Jack’s help to type up obituaries for the original residents of Norvelt, who seem to all be dying quickly this summer. Miss Volker tacks on a surprisingly interesting history to each obituary, and she knows relevant details about each resident.

On top of that, we’ve got Jack driving Miss Volker’s car around town. His Dad building an airplane and a runway. His Mom monitoring his behavior. His best friend, the daughter of the funeral parlor owner, teasing him about his fear of dead bodies. And then there’s Jack’s nose:

“How could I forget? I was a nosebleeder. The moment something startled me or whenever I got overexcited or spooked about any little thing blood would spray out of my nose holes like dragon flames.”

There’s a lot of death in Dead End in Norvelt, including a Hell’s Angel who gets hit by a truck in town. But Jack Gantos the author manages to keep things funny. He gives us a great yarn about a kid just trying to stay out of trouble, and managing to learn lots along the way.

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Review of Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray

by Ruta Sepetys

Philomel Books, 2011. 344 pages.
Starred Review
2012 Morris Award Finalist

Here’s a work of fiction that constantly made me forget it wasn’t nonfiction.

The book opens dramatically:

“They took me in my nightgown.

“Thinking back, the signs were there — family photos burned in the fireplace, Mother sewing her best silver and jewelry into the lining of her coat late at night, and Papa not returning from work. My younger brother, Jonas, was asking questions. I asked questions, too, but perhaps I refused to acknowledge the signs. Only later did I realize that Mother and Father intended we escape. We did not escape.

“We were taken.”

It’s 1941 in Lithuania. Stalin has annexed their country, and now he rounds up Lithuanian teachers, librarians, and university professors like Lina’s Papa, and their families. They are shipped in cattle cars to labor camps in Siberia.

The author, Ruta Sepetys, was from the family of a Lithuanian refugee who did escape and made it to America. But she researched this book well (even arranging to be locked away in a former Soviet prison!), and her words ring with terrible truth.

This is by no means a pleasant story, and though I was hoping it would end with Lina’s freedom, I’m afraid it doesn’t. An epilogue tells us that surviving deportees spent ten to fifteen years in Siberia. She does, however, manage to work in a message of hope, of the resilience of the human spirit, and of good even in apparent enemies.

This is a powerful and moving story about an episode of history I knew nothing about. The book is not only beautifully crafted, but does the good work of telling the world a story we should never forget.

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