The illustrated-diary shelves are full; fans should look on them for an alternative to this one.

MY LIFE AS LOTTA

A HOUSE FULL OF RABBITS

From the My Life as Lotta series , Vol. 1

Illustrated diary entries detail Lotta’s comical quest for the perfect pet in this translation of a German bestseller.

Lotta’s first year as a fifth grader at Wilt Whatman Middle School gets off to a rocky start thanks to her aptly named teacher, Mrs. Crabbert, and her continuing petless state. Whether they’re selling a box of bunnies on the curb, making funny animal videos, or trying in vain to get rid of Lotta’s malicious, magical recorder, Lotta and her best friend, Cheyenne, are experts at turning even the most innocuous situations into full-blown fiascos. Written in dated diary entries, Lotta’s first-person narrative relies heavily on humor, often gross and usually at the expense of others. The cartoonishly exaggerated interstitial illustrations depict a cast that’s all white as paper. Speech bubbles, sequential panels, and labeled illustrations are attractive. Unfortunately, the layout combined with the liberal use of display type and a convoluted plot make for a book that’s difficult to follow. There are also a few concerning moments, one an illustration depicting “Indian” chickpeas wearing turbans and another discussing a man in patched-up clothes who rants at the kids before abruptly leaving. Both point to a lack of empathy for different people and cultures.

The illustrated-diary shelves are full; fans should look on them for an alternative to this one. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3624-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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A sympathetic, compelling introduction to wolves from the perspective of one wolf and his memorable journey.

A WOLF CALLED WANDER

Separated from his pack, Swift, a young wolf, embarks on a perilous search for a new home.

Swift’s mother impresses on him early that his “pack belongs to the mountains and the mountains belong to the pack.” His father teaches him to hunt elk, avoid skunks and porcupines, revere the life that gives them life, and “carry on” when their pack is devastated in an attack by enemy wolves. Alone and grieving, Swift reluctantly leaves his mountain home. Crossing into unfamiliar territory, he’s injured and nearly dies, but the need to run, hunt, and live drives him on. Following a routine of “walk-trot-eat-rest,” Swift traverses prairies, canyons, and deserts, encountering men with rifles, hunger, thirst, highways, wild horses, a cougar, and a forest fire. Never imagining the “world could be so big or that I could be so alone in it,” Swift renames himself Wander as he reaches new mountains and finds a new home. Rife with details of the myriad scents, sounds, tastes, touches, and sights in Swift/Wander’s primal existence, the immediacy of his intimate, first-person, present-tense narration proves deeply moving, especially his longing for companionship. Realistic black-and-white illustrations trace key events in this unique survival story, and extensive backmatter fills in further factual information about wolves and their habitat.

A sympathetic, compelling introduction to wolves from the perspective of one wolf and his memorable journey. (additional resources, map) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-289593-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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