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THE LOST GIRL

Ursu’s fans will find much to love.

How will identical twins survive separation for the first time, especially when there’s a monster in their Minneapolis neighborhood?

Fifth grade is full of big changes for white identical twins Iris and Lark when they discover they will not only have different teachers, but different after-school activities. A third-person—although not omniscient—narrator recounts the twins’ story. Identifying this narrator is the start of many mysteries. And although the plot revolves around the girls’ burgeoning independence, Ursu focuses most on the separation’s effect on Iris. Having watched her sister face multiple illnesses, she’s become Lark’s protector and remains reluctant to give up this role. Grounded in spot-on twin truths, the mysterious story is also a modern-day fantasy with myriad components: local art heists and an antiques store with cryptic signs; the store owner’s magical experiments and missing sister; Lark’s own missing items and fondness for crows; Iris’ Pied Piper dreams and folktale musings; Iris’ after-school program at the library and its diverse group of girls, who explore self-esteem and feminism. The details are astounding, but the overall effect is overly ambitious. When the monster finally appears, the finale feels rushed as the girls work to defeat him. But the process allows the twins to realize that growing up doesn’t mean growing apart. Charming illustrations throughout reflect both the girls’ subtle physical differences and larger adventures.

Ursu’s fans will find much to love. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-227509-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

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A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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THE ONE AND ONLY RUBY

From the One and Only series , Vol. 3

Certain to steal hearts.

In this follow-up to 2020’s The One and Only Bob, Ruby the elephant is still living at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary.

She’s apprehensive about her Tuskday, a rite of passage for young elephants when she’ll give a speech in front of the rest of the herd. Luckily, she can confide in her Uncle Ivan, who is next door in Gorilla World, and Uncle Bob, the dog who lives nearby with human friend Julia. Ruby was born in an unspecified part of Africa, later ending up on display in the mall, where she met Ivan, Bob, and Julia. The unexpected arrival of someone from Ruby’s past life on the savanna revives memories both warmly nostalgic and deeply traumatic. An elephant glossary and Castelao’s charming, illustrated guide to elephant body language help immerse readers in Ruby’s world. Goofy, playful, and mischievous Ruby is fully dimensional, as she has shown her bravery during the many hardships of her young life. Applegate deftly tempers themes of grief and loss with compassion and humor as Ruby finds her place in the herd. The author’s note touches on climate change, the illegal ivory trade, and conservation efforts, but the highly emotive framing of the story through the memories of a bewildered baby elephant emphasizes the impact of lines such as “ ‘in Africa,’ I say softly, ‘there were bad people,’ ” without offering readers a nuanced understanding of the broader context that drives poaching.

Certain to steal hearts. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780063080089

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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