A science book with just enough story to it.

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PIGEON PROBLEMS

AN URBAN BIRD RESEARCHER’S JOURNAL

From the Science Squad series

Anthony Briggs has many reasons to hate pigeons, including the fact that the class bully has been calling him Pidge for years, but when studying them could earn him an overnight at the natural history museum, he learns to appreciate the creatures.

Anthony, a black New Yorker, dinosaur enthusiast, fantasy comic-book creator, and leg brace–wearing kid with Blount’s disease, wavers over whether or not to join the Science Squad but decides that even though it means studying “garbage-eating rat-birds,” he wants the museum overnight badly enough to do it. His friend Jasmine joins, but so does Jasmine’s other friend, Ivy, and the class bully, TJ, who never misses an opportunity to pick on Anthony. When everyone partners up to collect data in pairs, guess whom Anthony is left to work with? It’s not all bad though. After some difficult moments, Anthony learns not to shrink when ridiculed, and he learns that sometimes people lash out because they’re upset over something else. Anthony works hard to earn the Science Squad badges, and he becomes protective of a pigeon with a bum leg who reminds him of his own vulnerability. Anthony is a likable character who name-checks familiar books in his chatty narrative, and his classmates are a mirror of New York’s diversity. However, the journal conceit is a thinly veiled attempt to dump science information into readers, so the book will succeed best with true science enthusiasts.

A science book with just enough story to it. (note on urban bird-watching, glossary, bibliography) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63163-188-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Jolly Fish Press

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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

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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

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