A serious accident leads to a lesson in perseverance for a terrier named Lucky and his human companion in Inglis’ uplifting children’s book. 

  The story begins with a lonely man who decides one day to adopt a dog. After considering which type of dog would best suit him, he settles on an energetic terrier pup that he names Lucky. The man takes Lucky on walks through the park and teaches him tricks, like how to roll over. The two quickly become best friends, and their happiness is apparent in the bright illustrations by Kinsey. But the illustration’s vivid green, blue and purple hues give way to gray when Lucky suddenly runs out into the street and is hit by a car. The man brings Lucky to an animal hospital where a doctor is able to save his life. But in order for him to live, the doctor must amputate one of Lucky’s legs. Afterward, the man tells Lucky, “I love you just as much as ever.” He reteaches Lucky all of the tricks he used to know, and before long they resume their old lives, happily going for walks in the park. Though the message is clear—with a little hard work and determination, we can all overcome obstacles—it comes through in the telling of the story rather than through showing. Readers are told that Lucky works hard, but the illustrations imply that his road to recovery is quick and easy. Even the very young readers that the book is aimed toward could benefit from seeing the new challenges facing Lucky after his accident and how he works to overcome them. Still, the message is an important one, and Inglis does a fine job of showing that happiness is possible even after the most serious of accidents. Lucky and the man (who remains nameless throughout the story) also demonstrate the importance of friendship and the power of unconditional love. Young readers will find the illustrations friendly and amusing. The bright pallet complements the sunny disposition of the main characters, and fun details (like the picture of a mouse on a flag above the animal hospital) invite readers in for a closer look.    A light-hearted tale that will inspire young readers not to give up when the going gets tough.          


Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-1463777562

Page Count: 36

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner


How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool.


From the Pete the Cat series

The popular character enjoys storytime, painting, and a snack on the very first day of preschool.

The younger incarnation of Pete the Cat packs his backpack that he picked out from the store himself, gets a snack from his mom, and rides the school bus with his big brother, Bob (who isn’t much bigger than Pete, sizewise). At school, Pete meets his stylish teacher, Mrs. Lopez, and fellow feline classmates while keeping his signature cool. The day ends with Pete declaring: “Preschool is awesome! Pete loves everything!” James Dean’s big-eyed cats populate the simply drawn scenes that look as though they were painted in preschool-esque fashion with thick swaths of tempera. At a couple of moments (when he eats his banana and declares it tasty and when he sings along) his customarily expressionless face actually breaks into a smile. Kimberly Dean’s text is uninspired, but it’s in sync with the upbeat tone of the series. Pete’s preschool experience, while not particularly realistic, is a highly positive one; refreshingly, there is no trace of the separation anxiety or anxiousness found in many first-day-of-school books.

Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06243582-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet