A complex novella for thoughtful young readers, horse lovers, and campfire storytellers.



This Western for young readers focuses on a horse ranch in Wyoming, an unruly mustang, and a mysterious Shoshone visitor.

Curtin’s debut follows Jesse Alvarez, son of the new foreman at Big Bob Savage’s ranch in Riverton, Wyoming. Jesse’s always the new kid in town; he and his father, Mark, move from job to job, and his mother has mostly been absent since his parents’ separation. But Big Bob, the ranch’s benevolent but firm owner, seems to like them, recognizing their hard work and thorough knowledge. Unfortunately, Big Bob’s teenage son Cade hasn’t inherited his father’s kindness and has let his wealth spoil him. He’s popular and athletic but often a bully, especially to Aaron Little Elk, a Shoshone and outsider in Jesse’s class. Although Jesse appreciates Aaron’s friendship, he sometimes spends more time with friends Mike and Logan, who ride ATVs and play video games. However, when Big Bob acquires a wild mustang and offers to loan him to Jesse for the upcoming rodeo, it turns out that Aaron is the only person who can connect with the stallion. Aaron names him “Dreamcatcher”; he also makes the titular Native American items to keep away his own dreams of a past trauma. When Aaron disappears, Jesse believes it has something to do with the horse and a Shoshone stranger he’s seen around the ranch. This brief tale has many layers, tackling class differences between the Shoshone Aaron and wealthy Cade, Jesse’s parents’ difficult separation, the vicissitudes of youthful friendship, and the relationship between man and animal. The novella’s rising action deftly balances real human drama and spooky supernatural elements: “I’m not afraid of you up here, Cade,” says Aaron. “I know these woods. I know this mountain. This is Shoshone land...my land. It’s a magical place.” Despite occasional clichés (including a predictable divorce subplot), Curtin is never content with simple resolutions. The ending offers satisfying but hard truths, particularly concerning the permanence of loss.

A complex novella for thoughtful young readers, horse lovers, and campfire storytellers.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-61271-246-8

Page Count: -

Publisher: Zumaya Publications

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

Did you like this book?

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

Did you like this book?