Young fans of Pippi Longstocking will admire this budding eco-warrior, both for his independence and his determination to...

In a set of popular tales from a Hans Christian Andersen Award–winning author, a young lad arrives in town with nothing but a tow truck and finds a home as well as friends both human and animal.

First published beginning in 1971 but available in the United States for the first time, the 40 episodic chapters largely chronicle a series of rescues. Hardly has Pluck (originally “Pluk”) settled into a vacant apartment atop the Pill Building than he’s saved shy cockroach Zaza from poisoning, gotten young neighbor Aggie away from her neatnik mother, and rescued Dizzy, a squirrel afraid of heights, from a treetop. With his red truck and help from adult friends, plus a sea gull with a wooden leg, an invisible Tootenlisp that lives in a seashell, a pigeon that can poop with pinpoint accuracy, and the aptly named Stampers—six rambunctious boys and their single dad—he goes on to other exploits. These include plucking a sea gull from an oil slick, preventing a patch of woodland from being paved over, and responsibly chopping down a magic bush whose berries make grown-ups ignore fires and other emergencies in favor of horsing around like children. Westendorp, the original illustrator, adds jaunty, full-color scenes featuring an all-white cast of dot-eyed (usually) cartoon figures in mid-20th-century dress. A surprise birthday party for Pluck brings most of the cast back onstage one final time.

Young fans of Pippi Longstocking will admire this budding eco-warrior, both for his independence and his determination to help others in need. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78269-112-9

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Pushkin Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017


However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975


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

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. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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