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.
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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