Warmhearted and utterly charming.

CRESS WATERCRESS

A young bunny copes with the death of her father and the move to a new home.

Mama moves her children, Cress and baby brother Kip, one spring evening as the moon is in the sky. Their new home is in a dead, hollow oak tree called the Broken Arms; its ramshackle state reminds Cress of the Watercress family’s loss. Natural dangers, including, most saliently, a snake nicknamed the Final Drainpipe and Monsieur Reynard the fox, feel more immediate here. As they settle in, there’s a perfect seasoning of domesticity, adventure, and contained peril, as on the day Cress and Finian, from a neighboring squirrel family, are swept over a waterfall on a raft. Cress confronts—and charms—Tunk the Honeybear with aplomb, but then she and Finny are briefly held captive by an arrogant, pretentious skunk. Maguire’s narrative offers wry puns, rich vocabulary, and entertaining dialogue, and Litchfield’s glowing, slightly stylized, full-color illustrations present an enchanting, magical peek into this woodland world. Cress’ personality is nicely realized as a child on the cusp of growing up as she deals with sorrow, crankily takes responsibility for Kip, and argues with her mother (who, like Little Women’s Marmee, puts her own anger in check to step up for her children). The anthropomorphized world feels true to itself and to the animal natures inhabiting it.

Warmhearted and utterly charming. (Animal fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1100-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders.

TIGER BOY

When a Bengali boy finds and saves a tiger cub from a man who wants to sell her on the black market, he realizes that the schoolwork he resents could lead to a career protecting his beloved Sunderbans island home.

When the not-yet-weaned cub escapes from a nearby reserve, Neel and many of his neighbors join the search. But some are in the pay of greedy Gupta, a shady entrepreneur who’s recently settled in their community. Even Neel’s father is tempted by Gupta’s money, although he knows that Gupta doesn’t plan to take the cub back to the refuge. Neel and his sister use the boy’s extensive knowledge of the island’s swampy interior to find the cub’s hiding place and lure it out so it can be returned to its mother. The Kolkota-born author visited the remote Sunderbans in the course of her research. She lovingly depicts this beautiful tropical forest in the context of Neel’s efforts to find the cub and his reluctance to leave his familiar world. While the conflicts resolve a bit too easily, the sense of place is strong and the tiger cub’s rescue very satisfying. Pastel illustrations will help readers envision the story.

A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders. (author's note, organizations, glossary) (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-660-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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