Happily, the ending, in which the girls are presented with the hull of a small sailboat they’ll need to rig and equip in...

BECCA FAIR AND FOUL

There is more to this seemingly quiet account of a young girl’s seaside summer than meets the eye, including some fairly adventurous hijinks and occasional meaningful issues with which to cope.

Episodic adventures begin as Becca and her friend Jane attempt to sail out of the harbor by themselves for the first time; over the course of the season the girls try to raise money for a new boat by performing The Tempest, chafe at doing Gran’s chores, wonder about the romance between the island plumber and Aunt Fifi, and eventually decide to donate the play proceeds to charity. Interactions among the various cousins and friends are realistically done, although Becca is more developed as a character than the others; Jane remains a sidekick, the teenager cousin is one-notedly surly, and Gran is stereotypically curmudgeonly. The woodsy British Columbia setting provides an evocative backdrop for this sequel to Becca at Sea (2007), set across winter, spring, and summer. The era isn’t specified but seems some years bygone; no one has a cellphone, and activities are wholesomely summery: putting on the play, going to the beach, riding bikes, and exploring the woods.

Happily, the ending, in which the girls are presented with the hull of a small sailboat they’ll need to rig and equip in order to use, seems to signal more about Becca to come; perhaps in autumn next time. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-55498-957-7

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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

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  • Newbery Medal Winner

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

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

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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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