Sweet, optimistic, and engaging.

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NOCTURNAL SYMPHONY

From the Science Squad series

Science and story blend in this earnest series entry.

Middle schooler Brubeck “Bru” Ferrell wants two things this summer: for her mom to marry her longtime girlfriend, Ginger, and for her school’s Science Squad team to purchase new, sophisticated acoustic monitoring equipment to study local bats. The former seems as though it should be simple: Despite her mom’s reluctance to commit to marriage, Bru is positive that Ginger is the perfect fit for their family. The latter presents more of a challenge: Bru’s two best friends, Laura and TaKwon, are the only other people equally invested in their Science Squad’s project, which involves recording bat calls to contribute to a bat-conservation organization, so the chance of raising enough money for a quality ultrasonic recording device seems increasingly slim. On top of this, navigation of the trio’s friendship is getting steadily more complicated and confusing, causing additional tensions. While the book’s resolution is a deus ex machina, readers invested in Bru’s story will likely be happy with it. Told in journal entries that intersperse sidebars of bat facts, the narrative is friendly, accessible, and informative. The black-and-white digital illustrations are contemporary and appealing. Bru is white, and her community is multiethnic: Ginger is of Kenyan descent, TaKwon is brown, both Laura and the Science Squad’s teacher are Asian, and there are other secondary characters of color.

Sweet, optimistic, and engaging. (additional facts, glossary, index) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63163-300-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Jolly Fish Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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