This quiet, contemplative story explores the beautiful, complex internal lives of children.

VIVALDI

A cat and a composer create an escape for a young bullied girl.

Tyra dreads school—not because she’s a poor student but because she is ostracized by the other kids. She never speaks at school, only inside her house. But when she’s alone with Vivaldi, her adopted kitten, or with Grandma listening to the music of the composer Vivaldi, or even playing the piano, then Tyra comes alive. The complex, contradictory emotions and nature-evoking sounds in Vivaldi’s music allow her to fly away, into the music. Tyra’s internal life is conveyed in a linear set of loose third-person vignettes, as if each page or two is a textual and visual poem, a bite-sized insight. The text, translated from the original Norwegian, is lyrical, at times gently humorous and at others poignant, yet ultimately life-affirming. Strong lines and bold shapes in a striking array of muted colors create the groundwork for compelling illustrations filled with symbolism, such as the giant eyes that float around a shrinking Tyra sitting at her classroom desk. Eventually, Tyra’s classmate alerts adults to her situation, and the ending leaves Tyra connecting with the school psychologist through her love of her cat. Created by an award-winning author-and-illustrator duo, this long-format picture book with a compact trim is a shorter, more visual read-alike for R.J. Palacio’s Wonder (2012) and other books about kindness and compassion. Tyra is depicted with beige skin and black hair.

This quiet, contemplative story explores the beautiful, complex internal lives of children. (Fiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68137-374-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: New York Review Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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