Saturday, April 18, 2020

Louder Than Words (Heroes Quartet, #3)

Kacer, Kathy. Louder Than Words (Heroes Quartet, #3)
April 14th 2020 by Annick Press
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Dina and her family are struggling after the death of the schoolteacher father, but luckily their mother has been able to take on his job. She hires a housekeeper, Nina, to watch the baby during the day and help out. It's the early 1940s, and the town of Prokurov, which once was Polish, then Russian, is now part of the Soviet Ukraine. There are troubling signs that the Jewish citizens are going to have difficulties-- there are swastikas on businesses, yellow stars to be sewn onto clothing, and eventually the loss of schools, parks, and livlihoods. After a fire burns down their home, Dina and her family have a small piece of luck-- the local government issues them new identity cards, claiming that Nina is the mother of the girls and their mother is the maid. They are all listed as Catholic, Nina's religion. They get an apartment and a small amount of money, and think that they might be able to survive. When a former neighbor identifies the mother and calls the police, she ends up confined to the ghetto. Nina steps up to take care of the girls and to ride out the war while hiding their identities.
Strengths: This had a lot of good details about what life was like for Jewish people in the days leading up to Nazi occupation, and what it was like to hide and ride out the war instead of being sent to a concentration camp. It's similar to Skrypuch's  Don't Tell the Nazis, and the fact that it is based on actual people is fascinating. Canadian writers are my new go-to for books about the Holocaust!
Weaknesses: While I understand what they were trying to do with the cover art (it looks like some WWII posters a bit), it's not necessarily going to appeal to my 8th graders because of the cartoon style. I'll be able to hand sell it with no problems, though.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing; every year I need about 200 books set during WWII for an 8th grade project, and this was a compelling read. It doesn't matter that it is the third in the series, but I am going to go back and investigate the other titles.

Dunn, Georgia. Take It Away, Tommy: A Breaking Cat News Adventure
March 31st 2020 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by the publisher

While my students don't read the newspaper and are unaware that comic strips appear in them, they nonetheless love books of comic strips. I'm not a cat fan (in the words of Pluto Living "Cats are not important."), but many of my students are, and they find these collections amusing. I am a bit disturbed by the empty, soulless eyes in the drawings of the cats, but then... they are cats!

From Goodreads:
Tonight’s top story: the intrepid team of feline reporters is back on the beat and tackling stories like a runaway toy mouse in this second collection of Breaking Cat News comics for middle-grade readers.

Once again Lupin, Elvis, and Puck—alongside boisterous field correspondents like Tommy—deliver hard-hitting reportage on all of the most pressing issues, such as Vacuum Awareness Week, the case of the missing breakfast, and the history of fuzzy blankets. The gang also meets new characters like Burt, the free-spirited barn cat who helps solve some AV problems. And these cats will need all of the help they can get to get to the bottom of some mysterious ghost sightings and prove they’re not scaredy.

The More-to-Explore section includes paper dolls, how to make pet rock cats, and explores the Big Pink House and the BCN apartment within.

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