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NOTORIOUS

Chalk up another treat for Korman fans.

Barney was legendary for appalling acts of canine depravity until his recent death; two kids—Zarabeth, his (one) mourner, and Keenan, her at-first-skeptical new friend—investigate his possible murder.

Keenan misses his cosmopolitan life in Shanghai, where his mom and stepdad teach at an international school. Recovering from tuberculosis at his dad’s house on tiny Centerlight Island, divided between the U.S. and Canada, is beyond boring until he meets Zarabeth, with Barney’s well-behaved (but sadly disdained) replacement and colorful tales of famous Prohibition-era gangsters attracted to the quiet island’s largely unguarded international border; Tommy-Gun Ferguson, who built her family’s house, might have hidden his gold bullion on the island. When Keenan, now well, proves popular at his new island school, Zarabeth feels isolated. Centrelight’s few Canadian kids must attend mainland schools via ferry. Not incidentally, the island’s more-numerous American kids resent contrarian Zarabeth’s stubborn advocacy for anything-but-lamented Barney. Now snubbed by Zarabeth, Keenan looks into Barney’s death to appease her—and finds her suspicions well founded. Like the island’s two spellings, Zarabeth’s cross-border observations wryly assert Canadian cultural identity. She and Keenan, both presumed white, alternate narration and are good company. Vivid secondary characters commit spontaneous acts of hilarious mayhem—the unscheduled school-lockdown drill is one standout—though Barney’s extreme depredations (like destroying a Porsche and a house porch in one go) occasionally strain credulity. Readers need to buy such pivotal plot points.

Chalk up another treat for Korman fans. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-279886-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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THE WILD ROBOT PROTECTS

From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

From the One and Only series , Vol. 1

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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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. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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