Mystery fans (around the world) should rejoice.

THE PLUCKER

From the Beastly Crimes series , Vol. 4

Come to the Far Woods for a tale of beastly crimes and detection in this Russian import.

Chief Badger has had to make the wrenching decision to suspend his Assistant Chief Badger—and adoptive son—Badgercat (an actual cat). Badgercat is under suspicion of being the Plucker, a villain who is plucking seemingly random birds in the Far Woods and burning their feathers. Super Bat, a representative of Madame Weasel, is 100% certain Badgercat is the perp. Chief Badger would like to use his badger logic and look for clues (and, hopefully, clear his son). Meanwhile, with the aid of his new sketchy friend Ratty, Badgercat is working to clear his name with an investigation of his own. Who could be pulling the feathers off the avian denizens of the wood? Arctic the fox? Sneaky Sal the lizard? One of the birds…or someone higher up? And what does the poetry of Robert Forest have to do with it? Starobinets’ fourth Beastly Crimes book is a clever whodunit featuring believable animal characters in a convincing, recognizable society. There are perhaps one (or two) too many red herrings, but a satisfying conclusion will please fans. This tale can stand alone, but all are much more enjoyable starting from the beginning. A few full-color illustrations from Muravski add to the appeal.

Mystery fans (around the world) should rejoice. (Mystery. 8-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-4868-2953-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Dover

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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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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