A bright and tender novel of love, loss, and survival.

MATYLDA, BRIGHT AND TENDER

After losing her best friend, a little girl tries to hold on to him by transferring her affection to the pet lizard they shared in picture-book author Hallie Durand’s first novel.

Ten-year-old, white Sussy (short for Susquehanna) has been best friends with Guy since kindergarten and loves him “more than anything.” When Guy suggests they need a pet, they purchase a leopard gecko they name Matylda, imagining the little lizard as a warrior drawn to them by love. Guy has a special connection with Matylda, who clearly responds to him more than Sussy. Everything changes after Guy is killed in a biking accident trying to save Sussy from an attacking dog. Alone, bereft, and filled with guilt, Sussy vows to find a way to love Matylda just as Guy did, since the lizard is all she has left of him. Isolated in her bedroom all summer, wearing the same clothes she wore the day Guy died, Sussy constantly relives the accident and tries to justify stealing special food and toys to earn Matylda’s affection. In her own words, Sussy poignantly describes her emotional journey from grief and despair to healing and hope as she learns how to love Matylda in her own way and move on without Guy. McGhee does not flinch from Sussy’s overwhelming grief, spinning out long sentences that keep taking her back to the awful truth.

A bright and tender novel of love, loss, and survival. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8951-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Heartening and hopeful, a love letter to black male youth grasping the desires within them, absorbing the worlds around...

THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE

Cooler-than-cool newcomer Styx Malone takes the more-sheltered brothers Caleb and Bobby Gene on a mischievous, path-altering, summer adventure of a lifetime as they embrace the extraordinary possibilities beyond the everyday in rural Indiana.

Readers may think an adventure such as they’ll find here wouldn’t be possible in the present day; this story takes place outside, where nature, know-how, creativity, and curiosity rule. Creeks, dirt roads, buried treasures, and more make up the landscape in Sutton, Indiana. Younger brother Caleb narrates, letting readers know from the outset that he’s tired of his dad’s racially tinged determination that they be safely ordinary: “I don’t want to be ordinary. I want to be…the other thing.” With Styx Malone around, Caleb and Bobby Gene will sure figure out what that “other thing” can become. The three black adolescents are enchanted with the miracle of the Great Escalator Trade, the mythic one-thing-leads-to-another bartering scheme that just might get them farther from Sutton than they’ve ever dreamed. As they get deeper and deeper into cahoots with Styx, they begin to notice that Styx harbors some secret ambitions of his own, further twisting this grand summer journey. “How do you move through the world knowing that you’re special, when no one else can see it?” begs the soul of this novel.

Heartening and hopeful, a love letter to black male youth grasping the desires within them, absorbing the worlds around them, striving to be more otherwise than ordinary. Please share. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1595-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 14

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner

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

Did you like this book?

more