A sensitive story about sexual harassment and bullying with a feel-good ending.

Three eighth-graders manage the fallout after someone publishes a ranked list of the prettiest girls in their class.

Being ranked No. 1 throws young poet Eve Hoffman’s life into chaos. A second-place ranking knocks Sophie Kane for a loop, too; she’s desperate never to be seen as “less than” or “white trash” like her single mom. Nessa Flores-Brady never expected to make the list (not because she’s Latina, but because she’s fat), and she’s determined not to let it affect her. Still, the rankings put Eve and Nessa’s best friendship at risk, threaten Sophie’s status as the most popular, and galvanize the eighth grade into targeted bullying. The rude, disgusting, and occasionally anti-Semitic messages that flood Eve’s phone are all too familiar for anyone who’s attended a majority-white middle-class American school—even their principal, an Asian American woman, recalls a time a boy snapped her bra so hard she bled, and no adults did anything. To the girls’ credit, they communicate about the effects of normative beauty standards and band together against the people (mostly boys) who enforce them, but of course the perpetrator isn’t whom they think. Eve’s older brother, Abe, and classmate Winston (who seems to be white) offer windows into the pressures of toxic masculinity. Endearingly nerdy references permeate the narrative. Their school is a diverse one, with difference mostly conveyed through naming convention.

A sensitive story about sexual harassment and bullying with a feel-good ending. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-923-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020


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

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