A rousing odyssey.

READ REVIEW

PICKLES VS. THE ZOMBIES

Not even the zombie apocalypse can keep a cat from her beloved two-legged pets.

Mounting anxiety after her 2-year-old charge, Connor, doesn’t come home from day care and the pet grown-ups go missing as well at last drives house cat Pickles to screw her courage to the sticking place and set out to the rescue. The world has turned strange, she discovers, as many humans have become vicious zombies—the slow, stupid kind, fortunately—and left the streets strewn with their half-eaten victims. Pickles is less disturbed by that (“I’m an indoor cat who watches way too much TV. My tolerance for dramatic violence might be a little messed up”) than by the annoyances of locks, doorknobs, and finding food that doesn’t run away. As she searches she faces challenges ranging from thuggish sewer rats to human fugitives hungry enough to trap and eat domestic animals…not to mention, of course, all those dangerously infectious undead. Luckily, she acquires a band of loyal sidekicks along the way, including a portly urban raccoon and a berserker hamster. Pickles’ steadfast loyalty makes her seem more doglike than feline, but she certainly has heart, and by the end she’s a long way from the shy, unadventurous kitty she began as. Misri artfully leaves gorier details to the imagination, so readers who really don’t thrill to blood and guts can focus on the adventure rather than the body parts.

A rousing odyssey. (Horror. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77086-558-7

Page Count: 184

Publisher: DCB

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A waggish tale with a serious (and timely) theme.

KATT VS. DOGG

An age-old rivalry is reluctantly put aside when two young vacationers are lost in the wilderness.

Anthropomorphic—in body if definitely not behavior—Dogg Scout Oscar and pampered Molly Hissleton stray from their separate camps, meet by chance in a trackless magic forest, and almost immediately recognize that their only chance of survival, distasteful as the notion may be, lies in calling a truce. Patterson and Grabenstein really work the notion here that cooperation is better than prejudice founded on ignorance and habit, interspersing explicit exchanges on the topic while casting the squabbling pair with complementary abilities that come out as they face challenges ranging from finding food to escaping such predators as a mountain lion and a pack of vicious “weaselboars.” By the time they cross a wide river (on a raft steered by “Old Jim,” an otter whose homespun utterances are generally cribbed from Mark Twain—an uneasy reference) back to civilization, the two are BFFs. But can that friendship survive the return, with all the social and familial pressures to resume the old enmity? A climactic cage-match–style confrontation before a worked-up multispecies audience provides the answer. In the illustrations (not seen in finished form) López plops wide-eyed animal heads atop clothed, more or less human forms and adds dialogue balloons for punchlines.

A waggish tale with a serious (and timely) theme. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-41156-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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A mystery/thriller that’s equal parts heartfelt and shocking.

TEEN KILLERS CLUB

An accused murderer is thrust into an assassin training program.

Seventeen-year-old Signal Deere is serving hard time after a hazy night with her former best friend, Rose, which ended with Rose’s body in her lap, an emotional trial, and the media moniker the “Girl from Hell.” After her caseworker, Dave, assures Signal there’s no way she’ll get a successful appeal, he offers her an alternative: being shipped off to a mysterious camp and enrolled in a top-secret government training program unofficially known as the Teen Killers Club. There, Signal and other adolescent Class A felons (the most dangerous kind) undergo various drills—among them, dismembering fake corpses and dissolving flesh in acid—in preparation for eventually being used as assassins against government targets. The teens have been injected with a device remotely controlled by their trainers that will kill them if they attempt to escape the camp or otherwise disobey orders. As Signal nurses an attraction to sensitive tattooed Javier and fights her feelings for handsome sociopath Erik, she begins to piece together what really happened that night with Rose. Sparks crafts a page-turner with a disturbingly unusual premise, snappy dialogue, and characters that go deeper than their heinous crimes. Signal and Erik are assumed White; love interest Javier is cued as Latinx, and there is some diversity in the supporting cast.

A mystery/thriller that’s equal parts heartfelt and shocking. (Thriller. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-229-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Long before Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching,” Fabre proved it so.

SMALL WONDERS

JEAN-HENRI FABRE AND HIS WORLD OF INSECTS

The rewards of simply taking time to bend down for a closer look are celebrated in this tribute to the great French entomologist.

Seeing as a lad that “every patch of dirt and tangle of weeds buzzed with insects: dazzling beetles, ferocious wasps, sweet-singing crickets, and more,” young Fabre went on to devote a long life to watching common insects rather than just collecting dead specimens as most of his contemporary colleagues did. The distinctive, enduring affection with which he regarded his diminutive subjects regardless of their often savage behavior comes through clearly here, both in Smith’s warm narrative and Ferri’s equally engaging views of the naturalist. He delightedly discovers a shimmering hoplia beetle beneath a leaf, smiles from his sickbed as a handful of hibernating bees revives after his son carries them indoors, and is wonderstruck by an account of how Cerceris wasps paralyze beetles as live food for offspring. (The illustrator has a little fun with viewers by adding a looming insectile shadow as well as close-up views of hovering wasps in this last scene.) Fabre’s many original discoveries and insights won him renown, and though he is largely unknown to nonspecialists today, his nose-to-nose approach to the natural world is well worth commemorating to modern readers.

Long before Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching,” Fabre proved it so. (historical note, timeline, author’s note, annotated source list) (Picture book/biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4778-2632-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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