For good young readers and patient listeners, environmental good news invitingly presented.

JOURNEY

BASED ON THE TRUE STORY OF OR7, THE MOST FAMOUS WOLF IN THE WEST

In 2011, a wolf collared with a tracking device left his pack in northern Oregon, as young wolves do, and ventured south, becoming the first wolf to enter California since 1924.

In her fictionalization of his travels, Smith alternates OR7's story with that of a young California resident, a Mexican-American girl she calls Abby. Using internet data, Abby tracks the wolf on a map, and she submits a winning name, Journey, in a contest to make the wolf "too famous to harm." (In real life, the backmatter tells us, two children from other states were the contest winners.) The author imagines what Journey senses and thinks along the way. She includes his encounter with a motion-sensor camera, his temporary stay with a pack of coyotes, and his discovery of the young black female, also a wanderer, who became his real-life mate. They’ve settled just north of the border, raised pups, and started a new pack. James’ realistic, finely detailed paintings glory in every hair of the wolves’ fur. Journey’s trek is depicted on double-page spreads; for Abby’s experience, full-page images oppose pages of text, each with a relevant vignette. The backmatter includes an actual photograph. The text and its font size may be challenging for young readers, but the story will appeal.

For good young readers and patient listeners, environmental good news invitingly presented. (timeline, map, further web exploration) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63217-065-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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DONUTS AND DANGER

From the Max Meow series , Vol. 2

Max and Mindy are back in action and must face old foes and nefarious new look-alikes.

Max Meow, feline resident of Kittyopolis, is secretly the superhero Cat Crusader, and he’s excited to no longer work solo. His BSFF (Best Science Friend Forever), brown-skinned human Mindy, has gained powers and created her own superhero persona, Science Kitty. Problem is, she puts so much pressure on herself to be perfect that she’s too scared to be a hero out in public. When havoc is wreaked at Food Fest, followed by a series of robberies, not only is the world of donut sales in peril, but the whole city is in danger. Old and new villains team up, and Cat Crusader will need Science Kitty’s skills—even if they are imperfect—in order to save the day and the donuts. This book tries to do a lot and isn’t always successful: An overabundance of plot points and characters makes it lack focus and overall cohesion. The more the story progresses, the messier and more jumbled it becomes, bogging down the pace. The lesson about the pitfalls of perfectionism does add some depth, and the brightly colored cartoon art plus the combination of silliness, science, and superpowers make this tale inviting. Fans of the first book may enjoy spending more time with these cool cats, but hopefully their next adventure will be smoother.

Overstuffed. (drawing instructions) (Graphic fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12108-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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