A meandering, idealistic tale for budding scientists.

After 10-year-old Henry witnesses the fall of a meteorite, disaster finds his Maine home.

Henry Bower, of Bower Hill Road, comes from a family of water dowsers, but he hasn’t yet shown any talent in this area—his current skills include reading the most books at the library and writing questions about the world in his home-schooling notebook. Henry has a passion for rocks and minerals and is thrilled when he and his little sister find a meteorite to rival the 31-ton Ahnighito in Greenland. An author’s note describes, among other things, the controversy over its fate and the “sad and disturbing history of the Inughuit people brought to New York City, along with the meteorite.” Henry tries to keep it a secret to protect it from similar theft. A paean to science, the text can be laudably earnest (“I learn that no matter how big or special a meteorite is, someone always wants to take it or chip it”) but the dialogue is occasionally stilted. Brief quotes, mostly from nonfiction science resources, open each chapter, intriguing readers who might otherwise wonder where Henry’s narrative is going and why. The flood that overtakes Henry’s house traumatizes his family, especially when some people in the town blame them for it, but Henry shows impressive kindness and resilience. The main cast reads as White; a visiting scientist who mentors Henry is Black.

A meandering, idealistic tale for budding scientists. (author's note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17573-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021


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

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


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

Close Quickview