Entertaining, fast-paced, and almost true.

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SKY CHASERS

Magpie, a homeless street urchin whose only friend is Coco, her pet rooster, survives as a pickpocket in southern France.

It is 1783, and there is an intense rivalry between England and France to create a device that can fly. When Magpie inadvertently becomes part of the Montgolfier brothers’ test flight of a huge paper balloon, actually flying for a few minutes, she becomes completely enthralled even though she is badly injured in the rapid descent. They bring her to their home, where she becomes a special friend to Pierre, Joseph-Michel Mongolfier’s son, and his pet duck, Voltaire. The experiments continue, with Magpie’s observations and ideas helping to improve the balloon prototypes. The brothers are commanded by Louis XVI to demonstrate their invention at Versailles. The balloon is to carry only a sheep, Coco, and Voltaire. Many exciting and dangerous adventures ensue in this picaresque, with false friends, highway robbery, a duel, possible spies, a near deadly attack, and more. Magpie narrates her story in an immediate present tense. Historical figures are woven seamlessly with the invented characters, as are imagined events with the actual, recorded fact of the balloon demonstration. Magpie is at once suspicious and accepting, grateful and wary, a good true friend, and altogether delightful. She is biracial, with an absent Algerian father and (deceased) white, French mother, though her identity plays no part in the story; the book otherwise hews to a white default.

Entertaining, fast-paced, and almost true. (historical note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-28527-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

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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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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