A well-wrought sophomore offering with a delightfully unconventional heroine.

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OLGA

WE'RE OUT OF HERE!

In her second science-based adventure, inquisitive Olga relies on research to help determine what ails her beloved pet, Meh.

After discovering a new species—the Olgamus ridiculus—in her last adventure (Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere, 2017), fact-loving and gently misanthropic Olga has decided to leave Earth with Meh, who she’s decided must come from another planet. The black-haired, pale-skinned girl gathers information about what they will need for their intergalactic journey by visiting her favorite punk-rock librarian, Ms. Swoop, amassing space facts from the internet, and learning about astronaut-appropriate fare. However, Olga soon notices that something is wrong with Meh when her companion’s usually gentle demeanor and appearance both change for the worse. Will Olga be able to find out what is wrong with her cherished Olgamus ridiculus so they can embark upon their cosmic journey? Question-loving Olga describes herself as “grouchy,” but this seems a bit unfair; Olga is a strong—and wholly likable—character who values research and fact (usually over human interaction) and is not afraid to speak her mind, whether she’s confronting the popular girls or a vainglorious veterinarian. With pleasing, pink-toned two-color illustrations in an appealing graphic-hybrid format with large, charming artwork, this should appeal to an audience who likes their protagonists to be bold, smart, and welcoming of a gross-out joke or two.

A well-wrought sophomore offering with a delightfully unconventional heroine. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-235129-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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Thought-provoking and charming.

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THE WILD ROBOT

A sophisticated robot—with the capacity to use senses of sight, hearing, and smell—is washed to shore on an island, the only robot survivor of a cargo of 500.

When otters play with her protective packaging, the robot is accidently activated. Roz, though without emotions, is intelligent and versatile. She can observe and learn in service of both her survival and her principle function: to help. Brown links these basic functions to the kind of evolution Roz undergoes as she figures out how to stay dry and intact in her wild environment—not easy, with pine cones and poop dropping from above, stormy weather, and a family of cranky bears. She learns to understand and eventually speak the language of the wild creatures (each species with its different “accent”). An accident leaves her the sole protector of a baby goose, and Roz must ask other creatures for help to shelter and feed the gosling. Roz’s growing connection with her environment is sweetly funny, reminiscent of Randall Jarrell’s The Animal Family. At every moment Roz’s actions seem plausible and logical yet surprisingly full of something like feeling. Robot hunters with guns figure into the climax of the story as the outside world intrudes. While the end to Roz’s benign and wild life is startling and violent, Brown leaves Roz and her companions—and readers—with hope.

Thought-provoking and charming. (Science fiction/fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-38199-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is...

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CRENSHAW

Applegate tackles homelessness in her first novel since 2013 Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan.

Hunger is a constant for soon-to-be fifth-grader Jackson and his family, and the accompanying dizziness may be why his imaginary friend is back. A giant cat named Crenshaw first appeared after Jackson finished first grade, when his parents moved the family into their minivan for several months. Now they’re facing eviction again, and Jackson’s afraid that he won’t be going to school next year with his friend Marisol. When Crenshaw shows up on a surfboard, Jackson, an aspiring scientist who likes facts, wonders whether Crenshaw is real or a figment of his imagination. Jackson’s first-person narrative moves from the present day, when he wishes that his parents understood that he’s old enough to hear the truth about the family’s finances, to the first time they were homeless and back to the present. The structure allows readers access to the slow buildup of Jackson’s panic and his need for a friend and stability in his life. Crenshaw tells Jackson that “Imaginary friends don’t come of their own volition. We are invited. We stay as long as we’re needed.” The cat’s voice, with its adult tone, is the conduit for the novel’s lessons: “You need to tell the truth, my friend….To the person who matters most of all.”

Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is nevertheless a somberly affecting one . (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04323-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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