The depth of Lee's concern for the animals is palpable, but her desire to deliver her message undercuts the effectiveness of...

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CAT FOUND

Lee's Dog Lost (2008) was a fictional account of one community’s fear-fueled drive to euthanize every pit bull in town. Following the same formula, here she tackles the problem of feral cats.

The town of Clydesdale has a big problem with stray cats, and citizens are demanding a solution. Billy Reddick has a problem, too. His father, Walter, mistreats both him and his mother and takes out his meanness on the town's homeless cats. When drunk, Walter even uses the cats for target practice. On Billy’s 11th birthday, Walter gives him an air rifle. “That thing will keep down the vermin.” But Billy has a secret—a stray cat he rescued and is hiding from his parents. When Billy discovers that the cat, Conga, is pregnant, he takes her to an abandoned building that is home to many feral cats but then becomes distraught when she goes missing. Will he find her before his father and other angry townsfolk kill her? The story is abundant with stereotypical characters and situations, right down to the oh-so-convenient climax. Though the ending is happy, at least for Conga, the graphic descriptions of animal cruelty, though honest and not gratuitous, may be upsetting to more sensitive readers.

The depth of Lee's concern for the animals is palpable, but her desire to deliver her message undercuts the effectiveness of her storytelling; for nuance, stick with Jerry Spinelli's Wringer (1997). (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-31770-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

A WHALE OF THE WILD

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff

THE GREAT SHELBY HOLMES

From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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