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FREDDIE MOLE

LION TAMER

Possessing an earnest ridiculousness similar to that of a Dahl story, Freddie’s adventure should appeal to a similar...

A boy is tossed from the frying pan into the lion’s cage.

Freddie Mole, a “kind boy” who “lived quite a few years ago,” wants to get a job to help his impoverished family. Fortunately for the well-liked Freddie, his pals often treat him on outings, so when a friend invites him to the circus, Freddie can’t resist. To his surprise and delight, the circus needs a new assistant, and he’s hired on the spot. At the end of his first day, after Freddie’s swept the big top and helped the cook with the washing up, the ringmaster belatedly informs Freddie that he’s also the circus’ sole understudy. First he learns the trapeze, which is scary enough but made scarier when the hilariously incompetent aerialists almost forget the net. However, Freddie does such a wonderful job, he’s assigned to understudy the lion tamer (this was back “when circuses still had lions”). When the tamer runs off to Peru “or somewhere like that,” it’s up to Freddie to save the show. Will he succeed? Or will the ferocious beasts be his end? The unidentified narrator’s direct address forges an emotional connection between readers and Freddie. Cozy Briticisms and the curly black-and-white line art reinforce the story’s “once upon a time” feel. The cast is evidently all white.

Possessing an earnest ridiculousness similar to that of a Dahl story, Freddie’s adventure should appeal to a similar audience. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1377-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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THE WILD ROBOT PROTECTS

From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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THE ONE AND ONLY FAMILY

From the One and Only series , Vol. 4

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series.

Beloved gorilla Ivan becomes a father to rambunctious twins in this finale to a quartet that began with 2012’s Newbery Award–winning The One and Only Ivan.

Life hasn’t always been easy for silverback gorilla Ivan, who’s spent most of his life being mistreated in captivity. Now he’s living in a wildlife sanctuary, but he still gets to see his two best friends. Young elephant Ruby lives in the grassy habitat next door, and former stray dog Bob has a home with one of the zookeepers. All three were rescued from the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan’s expanded world includes fellow gorilla Kinyani—the two are about to become parents, and Ivan is revisiting the traumas of his past in light of what he wants the twins to know. When the subject inevitably comes up, Applegate’s trust and respect for readers is evident. She doesn’t shy away from hard truths as Ivan wrestles with the fact that poachers killed his family. Readers will need the context provided by knowledge of the earlier books to feel the full emotional impact of this story. The rushed ending unfortunately falls flat, detracting from the central message that a complex life can still contain hope. Final art not seen.

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series. (gorilla games, glossary, author’s note) (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063221123

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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