Who doesn’t love smart, friendly birds on a secret mission?


Homer the homing pigeon and Lulu, an Amazon parrot, collaborate to defeat a wily, sewer-dwelling alligator with a taste for bling.

The engaging conceit is that Homer long ago taught himself to read. Channeling his favorite cartoon detective, Dick Tracy, he’s determined to discover why rats and cats are stealing valuables from people in the park. With the help of his wild pigeon friends, he observes that the shiny stash is being taken into the storm sewers. Since he’s a pigeon of some talent, he’s convinced he and Lulu can explore the tunnels, solve the mystery of where the stolen items are being taken, and safely get away. They discover a huge, bejeweled alligator being served by a cast of minions. But how to relate this remarkable story to Otto, Homer’s owner, and Charlotte, Lulu’s human friend? Homer uses his ability to read words and Lulu, her skill in speaking them to communicate the necessary information. Each chapter begins with a panel of attractive pencil illustrations that record the highlights to follow. In them, Otto presents White, and Charlotte has darker skin. The birds’ exploits are surprisingly believable and enjoyable to follow in Homer’s first-person narration. The humans are appropriately less developed. Why Snaps the alligator loves jewels and how the rats and cats came to serve her are barely explored, leaving this potential adversary rather flat.

Who doesn’t love smart, friendly birds on a secret mission? (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68263-254-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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


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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A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves.


Two shelter cats take on a mysterious puss with weird powers who is terrorizing the feline community.

Hardly have timorous (and aptly named) Poop and her sophisticated buddy, Pasha, been brought home by their new “human beans” for a two-week trial than they are accosted by fiery-eyed Scaredy Cat, utterly trashing the kitchen with a click of his claws and, hissing that he’s in charge of the neighborhood, threatening that if they don’t act like proper cats—disdaining ordinary cat food and any summons (they are not dogs, after all), clawing the furniture instead of the scratching post, and showing like “cattitude”—it’ll be back to the shelter for them. Will Poop and Pasha prove to be fraidycats or flee to the cowed clowder of homeless cats hiding from the bully in the nearby woods? Nope, they are made of sterner stuff and resolutely set out to enlist feline allies in a “quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of purrs!” Cast into a gazillion very short chapters related by furry narrators Poop and Pasha, who are helpfully depicted in portrait vignettes by Herzog at each chapter’s head, the ensuing adventures test the defiant kitties’ courage (and, in some cases, attention spans) on the way to a spooky but poignant climax set, appropriately enough as it happens, in a pet graveyard.

A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves. (Adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49443-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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