A thrilling, inspiring tale of bravery and family.



A young elephant must reconnect with his herd and face his fears in this middle-grade novel.

Thunder, an African pygmy elephant, lives with his mother and the rest of his tribe in Africa. Every day, the tribe wanders through the savannah looking for food while Thunder and his friends play. The young elephant is particularly close to his mother, who teaches him all he needs to know, including how to communicate and act within the herd and how to protect himself from dangers that surround him—especially the “Uprights,” which is what elephants call humans. He leads a happy life until a poacher named Drago decides that he wants the elephants—and the rest of their animal friends—for himself. Drago captures some of them, but when his vehicle crashes, Thunder and a parrot named Penelope escape. The terrified Thunder misses his loved ones, but Soma, a tough-as-nails rhino, offers to help, and they all set off on a quest to find Thunder’s herd. Of course, it’s not easy, as weather and other wild beasts make the journey difficult; also, Drago is still set on capturing as many beasts as possible. Will Thunder make it back to his mother, or will Drago destroy his herd before he can find it? Shein and Reker (The Forgotten Ornament, 2012, etc.) paint quite a harrowing picture at times; Thunder’s quest is a stressful one, and some children may feel overwhelmed if they read it all in one sitting. That being said, the whole book is a lesson in perseverance and determination, which readers of all ages could stand to learn. The prose is thick with lovely descriptions of Thunder’s home and the various places he visits, and his fears will be relatable to the younger set. The story is also a great introduction to the concept of preserving the planet and its species. In a wonderful touch, an appendix gives contact information for a variety of organizations that are trying to stop the practice of poaching and protect the environment. Hopefully, this work will inspire young and old readers alike to do their parts to help save the beautiful creatures of Africa.

A thrilling, inspiring tale of bravery and family.

Pub Date: March 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62989-563-5

Page Count: 222

Publisher: World Castle Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached.


A little girl in a town of white snow and soot-blackened chimneys opens a small box and discovers a never-ending gift of colorful yarn.

Annabelle knits herself a sweater, and with the leftover yarn, she knits one for her dog, and with the yarn left over from that, she knits one for a neighbor and for her classmates and for her teacher and for her family and for the birdhouse and for the buildings in town. All and everything are warm, cozy and colorful until a clotheshorse of an archduke arrives. Annabelle refuses his monetary offers, whereupon the box is stolen. The greedy archduke gets his just deserts when he opens the box to find it empty. It wends its way back to Annabelle, who ends up happily sitting in a knit-covered tree. Klassen, who worked on the film Coraline, uses inks, gouache and colorized scans of a sweater to create a stylized, linear design of dark geometric shapes against a white background. The stitches of the sweaters add a subdued rainbow. Barnett entertained middle-grade readers with his Brixton Brothers detective series. Here, he maintains a folkloric narrative that results in a traditional story arc complete with repetition, drama and a satisfying conclusion.

A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-195338-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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