Youngsters who love anything equine should enjoy this volume filled with ample horse details and lore wrapped in light humor.


Midway Dreams

An ambitious pony in Kentucky imagines a future filled with possibilities in this debut children’s book that mixes dreams, facts, and motivational messages.

Crafted as “edutainment” and primarily for horse fans, this work by Shew and Orttenburger—a fourth-grade teacher—revolves around a colt named Midway, who relates equine dreams that take him “traveling on adventures all over the world.” He imagines winning the Triple Crown, becoming a rodeo star, pulling a milk cart in Scotland, running with wild mustangs in the Grand Canyon, marching in the Christmas parade in New York as a police horse, and more. The chapters, one page in length, consist of text appropriate for readers ages 8 to 12. The work delivers Midway’s narrative followed by brief facts arranged as a bullet-point list related to that day’s dream. When the pony fantasizes about taking part in a rodeo on July Fourth, for example, the authors offer info-bits about bull riding, Western music, and the origin of the holiday. Midway realizes “a dream come true” when he is cast in a movie as the yearling version of champion thoroughbred Secretariat, and the fact list offers background on that Triple Crown winner and names famous “Hollywood” horses. Payst’s cartoon-style illustrations are arranged a bit haphazardly, some before the pertinent chapter, others after. They are lively and offer a witty touch despite an awkward, rubbery-looking Midway who bears little resemblance to anything found in nature. Each clearly written chapter introduces a different kind of horse, equine competition, event, or job. Mixed-breed Midway refuses to see limitations: if he puts his mind to it, he thinks, he could even be an award-winning Palomino. (“A dream can become a desired goal or purpose, like becoming the fastest horse in the world or a rodeo star,” the authors explain.) The book’s overall lesson for success: “Set goals and work hard.” Which of Midway’s dreams will be realized may come later—this is the first work in an intended series.

Youngsters who love anything equine should enjoy this volume filled with ample horse details and lore wrapped in light humor.

Pub Date: April 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4908-0295-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2016

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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