Code Name Kingfisher

S. & S./Aladdin. May 2024. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781665929738.
Gr 4-8–In the present day, middle schooler Liv is dealing with heavy friend drama, as well as moving her frail Bubbe into an elder community. In 1942 Amsterdam, similarly aged Mila and older sister Hannie are trying to maintain a semblance of normal while living under false identities during the Nazi occupation. When Liv gets a school assignment to explore her family tree, she and new friend Gabi begin probing secretive Bubbe’s past. The two stories, wartime and present day, intertwine as events and artifacts from Mila’s and Hannie’s lives turn up in Liv’s exploration of Bubbe’s past. Mila, or Mimi, is Bubbe. Much of the plot is revealed through letters and narration by various characters, in addition to journal entries written by Hannie as letters to her lost mother. In helping reunite Bubbe with a friend who was with Hannie at the time she disappeared and who has her journal, Liv learns that Hannie had been a resistance worker murdered by a Nazi patrol. Reading the journal, Bubbe realizes Hannie had forgiven her for her role in mistakenly exposing several Jewish children to capture and releases a lifetime of shame and regret. In an author’s note, Kessler writes that, though fictional, the novel is inspired by a tale of real-life sisters.
VERDICT A narrative that is at times almost overpoweringly emotional; an intense story, gorgeously told. With World War II books perennially in demand, especially Shoah stories, this one is highly recommended for elementary and middle school libraries.

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