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From the My Dog Ugly series

This amusing but never especially compelling dog tale is most likely to appeal to animal lovers. (Fiction. 8-11)

Nine-year-old Eric was thrilled to get a puppy from the animal shelter. But Ugly has now grown into an out-of-control dog.

The primary reason for that is Eric, of course. It’s been far too easy for him to leave Ugly’s care to his busy mom, so the young dog has never received any training, and now Eric’s parents and his rather unpleasant, much older sister have lost patience with both boy and dog. Worse is that Ugly prefers the person who feeds him, leaving Eric feeling rejected and unmotivated. If Ugly isn’t to be sent away, Eric has to step up and take over, a lesson he’s quite reluctant to embrace in spite of gentle—if rather pedantic—guidance from his grandfather. Eric’s first-person narrative is represented as a book he’s writing, apparently as self-motivated bibliotherapy. With amusing advice from his friends and help from Maggie, an experienced dog trainer, Eric eventually learns his lessons—and so does Ugly. Ugly’s misadventures are believable, as is Eric’s avoidance of responsibility. Maggie provides interesting dog-training hints, and the happy ending may inspire readers to pick up Ugly’s next misadventure, My Dog Gets a Job, which publishes simultaneously. Eric, his family, and Maggie present white in Lancett’s engaging illustrations; he has at least one friend of color.

This amusing but never especially compelling dog tale is most likely to appeal to animal lovers. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: July 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8086-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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From the First Cat in Space series , Vol. 1

Epic lunacy.

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. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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