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Lynne Kositsky (1947-) - Sidelights

rachel review windows girl

Award-winning Canadian writer Lynne Kositsky is the author of the young adult novels A Question of Will and The Thought of High Windows, as well as several volumes in the "Our Canadian Girl" series for younger readers. Kositsky, a native of Montreal who lives in Toronto, has earned the E. J. Pratt Medal and the Canadian Author and Bookman Award for her poetry, and she garnered the White Raven Award from the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany, for Rachel: A Mighty Big Imagining.

Kositsky's debut novel, Candles, appeared in 1998. Candles focuses on a young girl named Anya whose grandmother gives her an old menorah as a Hanukkah gift. When Anya lights the first candle, she is transported back in time to pre-World War II Germany, where she enters the life of Estie, a Jewish girl. Each time Anya lights a candle, she learns more about Estie's history, including her daring escape to England. "Estie's life and through her, Anya's learning to accept and cherish her Jewish identity, are the heart of the story," noted a critic in Resource Links.

In A Question of Will, another time-travel story, Kositsky looks at the controversy surrounding the authorship of William Shakespeare's plays. While on a field trip to the Globe Theatre in London, Perin Willoughby suddenly finds herself back in Elizabethan England, where she meets the boorish Will Shakspeare and a host of other colorful characters. After she lands work with an acting company, Perin begins to suspect that the true genius behind the stage dramas she helps to produce is Edward Vere, the earl of Oxford. According to School Library Journal contributor Lynn Bryant, "Kositsky does give a sense of the sights, sounds, smells, and people of sixteenth-century London and addresses the debate over who really wrote Shakespeare's plays."The Thought of High Windows, described as "superb, In her 2004 novel Lynne Kositsky recounts the experiences of an unhappy Jewish teen whose hopes to escape Nazi persecution shrink to the point of desperation. (Cover illustration by Lorraine Parow.) wrenching Holocaust fiction" by a critic in Kirkus Reviews, was published in 2004. Esther, a Jewish girl who fled Nazi Germany, finds sanctuary in a French castle with a group of refugee children. Life is difficult for Esther: she misses her mother and father, endures the taunts of her fellow refugees, and lives in squalor. "Esther's longing for her family and feelings of depression make her a very real character and her increasing losses and loneliness draw readers into her experiences," observed Beth L. Meister in School Library Journal. When France surrenders to Germany, Esther no longer feels safe and goes on the run, eventually joining the French underground. Martha V. Parravano, reviewing The Thought of High Windows in Horn Book, stated that the author's "focus on human imperfection and quotidian detail poignantly reminds readers that the Holocaust–in all its inhumanity–happened to real human beings."

The life of a former slave girl is depicted in Kositsky's tales from the "Our Canadian Girl" series. In Rachel: A Mighty Big Imagining, Rachel and her mother board a ship that will take them from America to Nova Scotia, where Rachel's stepfather awaits. Conditions in their new homeland are harsh and unforgiving, however, and free blacks are not welcomed by all. Despite these hardships, Rachel is determined to learn how to read and write. "This is a simple, believable story told in a straightforward manner," observed K. V. Johansen in Resource Links. Rachel: The Maybe House concerns the family's efforts to move from their horrid pit house to a new home, and Rachel: Certificate of Freedom follows Rachel and her mother after they are sold back into slavery. The final book in the series, Rachel: An Elephant Tree Christmas, adds "a lovely sense of closure," remarked Resource Links contributor David Ward.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Horn Book, May-June, 2004, Martha V. Parravano, review of The Thought of High Windows, p. 332.

Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, November, 2004, Jo Ann Yazzie, review of The Thought of High Windows, pp. 272-273.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2004, review of The Thought of High Windows, p. 181.

Resource Links, June, 1999, review of Candles, p. 12; February, 2000, review of Rebecca's Flame, pp. 25, 28; October, 2000, review of A Question of Will, p. 28; December, 2001, K. V. Johansen, review of Rachel: A Mighty Big Imagining, pp. 18-19; February, 2003, Joanne de Groot, review of Rachel: The Maybe House, p. 11; April, 2004, Carol-Ann Hoyte, review of Rachel: Certificate of Freedom, pp. 18-19, and Brendan White, review of The Thought of High Windows, p. 38; October, 2004, David Ward, review of Rachel: An Elephant Tree Christmas, p. 14.

School Library Journal, November, 2001, Lynn Bryant, review of A Question of Will, p. 160; May, 2004, Beth L. Meister, review of The Thought of High Windows, p. 151.

ONLINE

Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers Web site, http://www.canscaip.org/ (February 1, 2005), "Lynne Kositsky."

Lynne Kositsky Web site, http://www.lynnekositsky.com (February 1, 2005).

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