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 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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A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers.

DRAGONS VS. UNICORNS

From the Kate the Chemist series

A fifth grade girl brings her love of chemistry to the school play.

Kate loves science so much she’s determined to breathe fire. Of course she knows that she needs adult supervision, and so, with her science teacher’s help, Kate demonstrates an experiment with cornstarch and a blowtorch that nearly sets her teacher’s cactus on fire. Consequences ensue. Can someone who loves science as much as Kate does find pleasure spending her fall break at drama camp? It turns out that even the school play—Dragons vs. Unicorns—needs a chemist, though, and Kate saves the day with glue and glitter. She’s sabotaged along the way, but everything is fine after Kate and her frenemy agree to communicate better (an underwhelming response to escalating bullying). Doodles decorate the pages; steps for the one experiment described that can be done at home—making glittery unicorn-horn glue—are included. The most exciting experiments depicted, though, include flames or liquid nitrogen and could only be done with the help of a friendly science teacher. Biberdorf teaches chemistry at the University of Texas and also performs science-education programs as “Kate the Chemist”; in addition to giving her protagonist her name and enthusiasm, she also seems represented in Kate-the-character’s love of the fictional YouTube personality “Dr. Caroline.” Kate and her nemesis are white; Kate’s best friends are black and South Asian.

A fun-if-flimsy vehicle for science lovers. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11655-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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