A lively, magical tale of ancient times with a modern ethos.

WHALE OF A TALE

From the Scarlett and Sam series , Vol. 3

Scarlett and Sam are off on another magic carpet adventure (Escape From Egypt, 2015; Search for the Shamir, 2018), this time in the company of the prophet Jonah.

When the children take Grandma Mina’s centuries-old carpet to be cleaned, the cab driver, Jonah, tells them he is hiding from a very powerful boss. At their destination, Jonah speeds off with the carpet still in the trunk. They try to stop him and immediately find themselves in Jaffa in ancient Judea, where they discover that their carpet has been sold to pay for passage on a ship. They jump onto the ship, where Jonah is aboard, still refusing to obey God’s commandment to go to Nineveh to preach forgiveness to the Assyrians who have destroyed Israel and enslaved its people. Jonah wants revenge—not forgiveness. Just like the Bible story, there’s an intense storm, forcing Sam and Scarlett to jump overboard with Jonah, and they are swallowed into the belly of a megalodon (the huge prehistoric shark is, after all, a “great fish”). After myriad dangers and twists, Jonah reluctantly fulfills his duty and the children are safely returned home with a greater knowledge of their Jewish heritage. Kimmel employs modern syntax and references, matching the breakneck pace of the action. Sam and Scarlett are resourceful and wise beyond their years as they deal with an exasperating and stubborn Jonah. Stevanovic’s manga-inflected, grayscale illustrations feel both ancient and modern.

A lively, magical tale of ancient times with a modern ethos. (Historical fiction/fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2216-9

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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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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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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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