Chasing Secrets
by Choldenko, Gennifer

Thirteen-year-old Lizzie and her secret friend Noah, who is hiding in her house, plan to rescue Noah's father from the quarantined Chinatown, and save everyone they love from contracting the plague that is spreading in 1900 San Francisco.

Gennifer Choldenko is the New York Times bestselling and Newbery Honor–winning author of many popular children’s books, including Notes from a Liar and Her Dog, If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period, Al Capone Does My Shirts, Al Capone Shines My Shoes, Al Capone Does My Homework, and No Passengers Beyond This Point. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she hopes never to see a rat. Dead or otherwise. Visit her online at

*Starred Review* Dead rats, hushed rumors of plague, and cryptic talk of a monkey are at the forefront of 13-year-old Lizzie's mind as she schemes to rescue the family cook, Jing, from quarantine in San Francisco's Chinatown during the year 1900. In her newest novel, Newbery Honor Book author Choldenko (Al Capone Does My Shirts, 2004) delves into the controversial circumstances surrounding this outbreak of bubonic plague, as well as the more pedestrian challenges of growing up as a girl in early twentieth-century America. Bright and tenacious Lizzie has ambitions to become a doctor like her father, but such dreams give her little in common with other girls her age and also put her at odds with Aunt Hortense, who is determined to make a lady of her. The plot is enriched by winning characters, meaningful friendships, a taut atmosphere, and secrets multiplying as fast as the story's rats. Readers will sympathize as Lizzie fights for Jing and confronts challenges brought by adolescence, gender inequality, and racial prejudice. An author's note and chronology provide additional historical information. This engrossing mystery perfectly balances heart and intrigue, proving once again Choldenko's talent for packaging history within a story that kids are bound to love. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Infected rats and San Francisco's dark past at the turn of the 20th century come to light in Newbery Honoree Choldenko's (Al Capone Does My Shirts, 2004, etc.) look into an outbreak of bubonic plague. Even though 13-year-old Lizzie Kennedy attends the prim and proper Miss Barstow's School for Young Women, courtesy of well-to-do Aunt Hortense and Uncle Karl, she'd rather accompany Papa on his medical house calls. She longs to follow in her father's footsteps, unheard of for a girl and unlike her grouchy older brother, Billy. To ease her school loneliness, Lizzie relies on Jing, her family's beloved cook, who never fails to make her smile. As rumors about the plague infecting San Francisco abound, only Chinatown is put under quarantine. When Jing fails to return home, Lizzie fears he may be stuck in Chinatown. She's desperate to find him, not only for herself, but for Jing's 12-year-old son, Noah, who is hiding out in Jing's upstairs room. Lizzie and Noah's secret friendship gr ows with genuine tenderness and illuminates the differences and injustices that exist within gender, class, and race. Historical details, such as Joseph Kinyoun's pathogen experiment and immunization politics, feel meticulously researched (and familiar to the point of contemporaneity) but never take away from the story's heart. A solid story of friendship, mystery, and one girl's perseverance, in which a health scare and its rumors mirror today's epidemics. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 8-14) Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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