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THE GOAT

Lovely.

There’s a goat living on the roof of a New York City apartment building—or is it merely an urban legend?

White Toronto native Kid and her parents arrive in the city, where they will live in a cousin’s apartment and take care of his dog, Cat, while he is away. Her mom is a scattered, nervous actor who will be appearing in an off-Broadway play that she created. Cousin Doug leaves them a detailed book describing every possible facet of Cat’s care and all the people with whom he interacts. Kid feels generally “paralyzed by shyness” except when she is safe in her “family bubble,” but she finds herself welcomed by Cat’s friends. Brown-skinned Will, whose parents were killed in the twin towers, speaks in Spoonerisms, and is afraid to look out of windows, tells Kid about the goat. Together they are determined to find it, and while involved in their quest, they lose some of their fears. Fleming has created delightfully eccentric and warmhearted characters that exist in a close-knit community in lovely, accurately described New York City venues. The delightfully named, multiply diverse tenants in the building have interesting back stories and are given a turn at expressing their viewpoints. Even the goat tells of his hunger and longings. The convoluted, intricate tale is filled with joy, sweet sadness, and a triumph of spirit.

Lovely. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-916-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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STAY

Entrancing and uplifting.

A small dog, the elderly woman who owns him, and a homeless girl come together to create a tale of serendipity.

Piper, almost 12, her parents, and her younger brother are at the bottom of a long slide toward homelessness. Finally in a family shelter, Piper finds that her newfound safety gives her the opportunity to reach out to someone who needs help even more. Jewel, mentally ill, lives in the park with her dog, Baby. Unwilling to leave her pet, and forbidden to enter the shelter with him, she struggles with the winter weather. Ree, also homeless and with a large dog, helps when she can, but after Jewel gets sick and is hospitalized, Baby’s taken to the animal shelter, and Ree can’t manage the complex issues alone. It’s Piper, using her best investigative skills, who figures out Jewel’s backstory. Still, she needs all the help of the shelter Firefly Girls troop that she joins to achieve her accomplishment: to raise enough money to provide Jewel and Baby with a secure, hopeful future and, maybe, with their kindness, to inspire a happier story for Ree. Told in the authentic alternating voices of loving child and loyal dog, this tale could easily slump into a syrupy melodrama, but Pyron lets her well-drawn characters earn their believable happy ending, step by challenging step, by reaching out and working together. Piper, her family, and Jewel present white; Pyron uses hair and naming convention, respectively, to cue Ree as black and Piper’s friend Gabriela as Latinx.

Entrancing and uplifting. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-283922-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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THE LION OF LARK-HAYES MANOR

A pleasing premise for book lovers.

A fantasy-loving bookworm makes a wonderful, terrible bargain.

When sixth grader Poppy Woodlock’s historic preservationist parents move the family to the Oregon coast to work on the titular stately home, Poppy’s sure she’ll find magic. Indeed, the exiled water nymph in the manor’s ruined swimming pool grants a wish, but: “Magic isn’t free. It cosssts.” The price? Poppy’s favorite book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In return she receives Sampson, a winged lion cub who is everything Poppy could have hoped for. But she soon learns that the nymph didn’t take just her own physical book—she erased Narnia from Poppy’s world. And it’s just the first loss: Soon, Poppy’s grandmother’s journal’s gone, then The Odyssey, and more. The loss is heartbreaking, but Sampson’s a wonderful companion, particularly as Poppy’s finding middle school a tough adjustment. Hartman’s premise is beguiling—plenty of readers will identify with Poppy, both as a fellow bibliophile and as a kid struggling to adapt. Poppy’s repeatedly expressed faith that unveiling Sampson will bring some sort of vindication wears thin, but that does not detract from the central drama. It’s a pity that the named real-world books Poppy reads are notably lacking in diversity; a story about the power of literature so limited in imagination lets both itself and readers down. Main characters are cued White; there is racial diversity in the supporting cast. Chapters open with atmospheric spot art. (This review has been updated to reflect the final illustrations.)

A pleasing premise for book lovers. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780316448222

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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