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A Thunderous Whisper Library Binding – October 9, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8-In the midst of the Spanish Civil War, 12-year-old Ani unexpectedly gets drawn into a network of underground rebels working to thwart Franco's efforts to destroy the Basque people's way of life. With the threat of Hitler and the Nazis also on the horizon, Ani and her half-German, half-Basque friend, Mathias, work together to deliver messages for the rebels, using Ani and her mother's sardine business as their cover. When Guernica is bombed and both children end up without parents to care for them, Mathias vows to return to Germany to fight the Nazis, while Ani's father (who is fighting Franco's army) sends her to England along with hundreds of other Basque children. Through the tragedy of war, Ani discovers true friendship and loyalty for the first time. While readers will find her clandestine activities exciting, there is little explanation provided about the Spanish Civil War. Students unfamiliar with Spain's struggles during this period might not understand the gravity of the Basque people's problem, or its connection to Hitler's rise in power. However, this book provides a glimpse into an underrepresented world in juvenile literature, making it a good addition to middle-grade collections. Recommended it to fans of Roland Smith's Elephant Run (Hyperion, 2007).-Nora G. Murphy, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, LaCanada-Flintridge, CAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Unable to wash off the stench of her mother’s fish stall in the Guernica market, Ani is known as “Sardine Girl.” What little time she has after school and sardine selling, she spends alone beneath an enormous oak tree in the nearby countryside. It is there that she meets Mathias, a bold, mysterious boy who matches her timidity with roguish charm. Before long, the two become unlikely friends and find themselves embroiled in a local movement spying on Franco’s rebels. And just as she begins to find some meaning in her life, the Germans bomb Guernica, and everything is lost. Sent to England, away from Mathias and everything she has known, Ani finds new purpose as a shepherd to the younger children while she dreams of more. With indelible characterizations and straightforward plotting, and peppered with Basque and Spanish vocabulary, this painterly novel offers an intimate, immediate look at the Spanish Civil War and the depths of personal strength necessary to survive. Grades 5-8. --Thom Barthelmess --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 660L (What's this?)
  • Library Binding: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375969292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375969294
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,157,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christina grew up in a small Southern town in the Florida panhandle, but she's always been in touch with her Cuban heritage. She loves having breakfast with pan cubano and Southern style grits-- the best of both worlds! You can learn more about her at www.christinagonzalez.com

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sebastian Almazan on October 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful novel that contains facts about the civil war in Spain mixed with fiction. A must read for young people as well as adults interested in the civil war of Spain. It portrays the views of young people during war times. Excellent reading!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lyn M. Lachmann on August 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Anetxu is known as Sardine Girl by her classmates, who bully her relentlessly because she is poor and smells of the fish that she and her mother sell in the marketplace and deliver door to door. At home, things aren’t much better. Her mother still mourns the death of Ani’s brother years earlier. Ani endures both physical and emotional abuse from a mother who won’t call her by her given name but merely “neska”—the word for “girl” in the Basque language—and she misses her father, who has volunteered to fight against the Fascists.

One afternoon, while sitting under her favorite tree outside the city, Ani sees a slightly older boy with a limp. She has never seen him before, and she learns that he has recently moved to Guernica because his father manages movie theaters for a large company. Mathias’s father is of Basque heritage, and his mother is a German Jew; for that reason, he too supports the anti-Fascist cause. After some mutual distrust, Ani and Mathias become friends. He brings her to his father’s theater, where they eavesdrop on his father and other community leaders who have become spies. Soon, the children are carrying messages to the anti-Fascist resistance about the location of Franco’s ground forces and Hitler’s planes and ships. However, they are unable to protect their city against the devastating bombing that destroyed Guernica and killed hundreds of residents.

Many young people learn about Guernica from the famous anti-war painting by Pablo Picasso. Díaz González’s novel portrays the people in a way that contributes greatly to our understanding of the painting, of the war that has widely been seen as an Axis testing ground for the Second World War, and of the lives of children living in a war zone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Creative Mom on October 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If you've read The Red Umbrella by Gonzalez you'll be just as pleased with her latest novel! Gonzalez writes about a tragic time in history through the eyes of Ani, a girl who is forced to grow up too quickly. You'll be rooting for Ani in this engaging story!
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Format: Hardcover
Ani is twelve, and the world around her is falling. Though she believes she is safe in her small village, she is very lonely for her father, who has gone off to war. She has no friends and her mother is a hard working woman with little time to mother Ani. Then Mathias comes along and they form a strong friendship, an important bond, which is needed during these war times. Because war comes for them and their lives are changed forever.

Thank you, Christina Diaz Gonzalez. The last few books I've read this month had left me in a slump. I kept going back and forth between them, not really enjoying them. But then I picked up A Thunderous Whisper. And yes! This is what I was looking for. I went home every day, excited to carefully read the next few chapters of this well written, heartwarming book.

The author's writing is beautiful, flowing gracefully on the page. Ani is a multi-layered young girl who I couldn't help but like. She has no friends, and is alone most of the time, except when she is working with her mother selling sardines. Her father is in the war, and there is something beautiful and heartbreaking about the author's portrayal of Ani, sitting alone, under her tree, thinking up stories to tell her father when he comes back.

Mathias is smart, outgoing and brings Ani out of her shell, revealing her true self. He's also friendly and loyal, seeing something special in Ani that no one else cares to find. Mathias is your best friend when you were young, someone you still think fondly about, your first real friend. All of these characters drew me in and waited for their story to unfold.

The story moves slowly, taking in the beautiful setting and its inhabitants before the bombing. And then, after and how the survivors pick up what is left and move on.
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Format: Hardcover
In 1937 Guernica, Spain readers are introduced to twelve-year-old Ani and fourteen-year-old Mathias during the Spanish Civil War. Ani has always been ridiculed and called “Sardine Girl” because she helps her mother sell sardines and smells like fish. As a result, she has never had friends. Ever since her father went off to join the Basque forces fighting against Franco, she has spent time feeling belittled by her mother who seems to be resentful of her presence. Mathias is partly crippled due to a bout with polio as a young child. He has moved a lot, and has never had an opportunity to make a friend. His mother is German and his father is Jewish, so he has troubles of his own.

The two meet, and become inseparable when Mathias convinces her to join him in a plan to help his father’s spy ring gain information about the invading Franco and his forces. A few months later, their lives change forever when Hitler sends planes to deliberately bomb their city. Guernica is in ruins and their family members are dead, leaving Ani and Mathias to find a new path for their lives.

Diaz Gonzalez’s carefully researched book unearths a long buried part of history. Previous to reading this book, I had never heard of the bombing of Guernica. On its 75th anniversary, it is important that others learn about it. Readers ages 12-16 will also learn of the Basque and Spanish culture, while the “Glossary” at the end of the book helps explain many of the terms used in the book.
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