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365 DAYS TO ALASKA

A likable, timely debut.

Divorce separated Rigel from her dad and beloved home in Alaska’s remote interior; now living in Connecticut with her mother and sisters, she clings to his promise: If she sticks it out for a year, she can return.

Willow, 14; Rigel, 11; and Izzy, 5, were raised off the grid in a two-room cabin without electricity or indoor plumbing and were educated by mail—a life their parents, Bear and Lila, chose. Living with Lila’s mother suits Willow and Izzy. Grandma’s nice, her home’s amenities (a TV room, appliances, four bathrooms!) are amazing, and school is fun. Rigel, on the other hand, detests the noise; the orange, light-polluted night sky; and the fake, plastic, urban world her father also despises. At school she feels like an exotic outsider, a target for a posse of mean girls. When her one tentative friendship sputters, Rigel despairs until she befriends an injured crow behind the school. Aware that taming wild animals puts them at risk, Rigel still can’t resist feeding and naming it. Blueberry reminds her of Alaska’s ravens and provides companionship when Bear’s postcards and calls taper off. Rigel’s family is White; a Native Alaskan community and several secondary characters of color are respectfully, if briefly, portrayed. The clichéd mean girls excepted, characters are believable and engaging. Rigel herself—homesick for her old life, uncertain (and ambivalent) about how to navigate this new one—is sure to resonate with young, housebound readers.

A likable, timely debut. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4380-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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THE WILD ROBOT PROTECTS

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

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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...

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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