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COG

A thought-provoking tale for younger readers about hubris and what it means to be human.

Pinocchio and Wall-E meet Escape From Witch Mountain in this heartwarming sci-fi novel.

Cog (short for cognitive development) is a 7-month-old android who looks 12 and is eager to learn more about the world. Designed by Gina, a scientist for uniMIND with whom he lives, Cog spends his days slowly learning all about what it means to be human, from grocery shopping to learning wisdom through making mistakes. After an accident results in Cog’s being taken from Gina and locked in the main uniMIND headquarters, he becomes painfully aware of the sinister side of the organization. Refusing to spend any more time as an experiment, Cog escapes along with ADA, his sister android, and several others and attempts to find Gina. In his latest novel, van Eekhout (Voyage of the Dogs, 2018, etc.) brings considerable heart and wisdom to this coming-of-age tale. The central relationships between Cog and Gina and between him and his sister—all of whom are brown-skinned—feel heartbreakingly human and provide a timely example of the difficulties of being an outsider. The author nicely inverts gender roles, making Cog introspective and shy while his sister—a weapon android—is brasher and braver; watching the pair grow together as they explore humanity provides pathos and humor.

A thought-provoking tale for younger readers about hubris and what it means to be human. (Science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-268607-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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THE ONE AND ONLY FAMILY

From the One and Only series , Vol. 4

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series.

Beloved gorilla Ivan becomes a father to rambunctious twins in this finale to a quartet that began with 2012’s Newbery Award–winning The One and Only Ivan.

Life hasn’t always been easy for silverback gorilla Ivan, who’s spent most of his life being mistreated in captivity. Now he’s living in a wildlife sanctuary, but he still gets to see his two best friends. Young elephant Ruby lives in the grassy habitat next door, and former stray dog Bob has a home with one of the zookeepers. All three were rescued from the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan’s expanded world includes fellow gorilla Kinyani—the two are about to become parents, and Ivan is revisiting the traumas of his past in light of what he wants the twins to know. When the subject inevitably comes up, Applegate’s trust and respect for readers is evident. She doesn’t shy away from hard truths as Ivan wrestles with the fact that poachers killed his family. Readers will need the context provided by knowledge of the earlier books to feel the full emotional impact of this story. The rushed ending unfortunately falls flat, detracting from the central message that a complex life can still contain hope. Final art not seen.

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series. (gorilla games, glossary, author’s note) (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063221123

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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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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