Lovers of animal fantasy drawn to the book will find themselves taking in some history they likely never would have thought...

A cat with albinism traipses in and out of some of early-20th-century North America’s landmark moments.

From an Ontario farm, Pudding Tat makes his way to the bottom of Niagara Falls via barrel; to Buffalo via rail, where he attends the Pan-American Exposition; to New York City via motorcar, where he lives with the lyricist of “In My Merry Oldsmobile”; to the airship America as it attempts the first trans-Atlantic flight in history; to London via steamship before he heads back to North America on…the Titanic. This Forrest Gump of a cat is accompanied by an unnamed, irascible flea who acts as the cat’s guide, compensating for his vision impairment. The flea’s character arc from parasite to companion provides most of the book’s emotional verve, as Pudding, though he ostensibly seeks adventure, has less an adventurous spirit than an amiable one and seems happy to go where Adderson and the flea direct him. Characters are assumed white; even railroad porter Asa is not identified racially, thoroughly undercutting the poignancy of his insistence on being called by his name for readers who do not bring pre-existing knowledge of the history of the all-black corps of Pullman porters to the text (or read the concluding author’s note before they read the book).

Lovers of animal fantasy drawn to the book will find themselves taking in some history they likely never would have thought themselves interested in before. (Historical fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-55498-964-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019


From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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