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Cloud and Wallfish Hardcover – September 2, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Fifth grader Noah Keller is surprised when both his parents pick him up from school and astonished when they tell him that his mother has been granted permission to do "dissertation research" in East Germany for six months—and that they're leaving immediately and temporarily changing their names. After learning "The Rules, as Explained by Noah's Mother," which include statements such as "they will always be listening and often be watching" and "don't ever talk about serious things indoors; in particular, never refer to people by name," Noah (now called Jonah) arrives in East Berlin with his family. A new friend, tragedy, and burgeoning suspicion about Noah's parents play out in a subtle and well-paced story about the months leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Tension mounts as Noah continues to gain an understanding of the fear and desperation people feel, while readers are privy to "Secret Files" that provide historical context. Multidimensional characters are developed piece by piece to keep mystery and curiosity alive. Noah and his parents share a loving bond that grounds the plot and provides a shelter from the uncertainty and confusion Noah often feels in light of unfamiliar surroundings and jarring situations. Nesbet writes an interesting and nuanced narrative that weaves history, mystery, and friendship with enough action to keep readers engaged. VERDICT A great choice for those looking for a thrilling historical fiction or coming-of-age tale.—Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser, St. Paul Public Library.
In this atmospheric page-turner set just as the Iron Curtain begins to lift, Nesbet deftly ratchets up the tension, using a close third-person omniscient narration to keep readers experiencing one unnerving event after another, just as Noah does...This is edgy, dramatic, and emotionally rich historical fiction that provides a vivid look into an extraordinary moment in history.
—Horn Book (starred review)
[Nesbet's] author's note reveals the personal history behind the novel, suggesting a labor of love that does show in the carefully crafted details and effective scene-setting...Nesbet's detail-rich novel offers tenacious readers an interesting window into the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Nesbet writes an interesting and nuanced narrative that weaves history, mystery, and friendship with enough action to keep readers engaged. A great choice for those looking for a thrilling historical fiction or coming-of-age tale.
—School Library Journal
Nesbet gives readers a glimpse into life behind the Iron Curtain...Noah’s friendship with his neighbor Claudia is genuinely touching, and some truly tense scenes unfold as secrets are revealed and readers witness events leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Through Noah’s innocent but perceptive eyes, readers receive a first-hand look at this secretive and highly controlled world. Post-chapter "Secret Files" provide fascinating historical context, but the story’s heart lies in the friendship between Claudia and Noah, and in the lengths loved ones will go to in order to break down even the most formidable walls.
Nesbet cleverly contextualizes events via "Secret Files" ... that follow each chapter, drawing fact and fiction together into entertaining little bundles.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Told from the perspective of an eleven-year-old, the sounds, sights, and smells of East Berlin come vividly to life...Jonah is both credible and endearing. Even when his parents are secretive, he attempts to do the right thing. Side bars list pertinent historical facts. This makes an enlightening and inspiring choice for classroom units or book discussions.
A brilliant novel of friendship that seamlessly blends history with mystery and suspense, Cloud and Wallfish is certain to expand readers' perspective on multiple levels.
—Day (syndicated from Kendal Rautzhan "Books to Borrow")
Nesbet somehow manages to bring East Germany in 1989 to full-blown, fascinating life.
—A Fuse #8 Production (blog)
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Top Customer Reviews
Because I'm an adult and remember the fall of the Berlin Wall, this book was so important for me to read. I have always been fascinated by this topic. My father was stationed in Berlin when he was in the Army. This is such an important piece of history that unfortunately isn't really taught in schools. I do my best to at least introduce it to my sixth graders to the topic. I want them to start their own research on such an important topic. I am impressed with the way the author handled the topic. The reader is right there and can feel the strain the people living on the East side of the wall must have felt, especially if they didn't agree with the politics at the time. This is a book I will definitely promote to my students. I had an extra copy so I passed it along to my granddaughter who had picked it up to look at. Thank you Anne Nesbet for creating a perfect book at the perfect time.
Intended for middle schoolers, but so profound that adults will find it deeply satisfying.
All the characters are so beautifully drawn, and the young characters in particular are so real that you want to cry for them.
Do yourself a favour and read it; and then buy copies for all the young people you know to give as gifts.
A perfect book to hunker down with on a fall day with a cup of hot cocoa!
There is nothing controversial in this book .. no guns, foul language or bad habits. Just a great kid with a good heart trying to put the pieces of a complicated puzzle together in his mind.