THE CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS

A distinguished trio combine for a fresh, accessible and wonderfully appealing reimagining of a classic 19th-century “program music” favorite (“program music” being music specifically created to describe or depict a visual image): Camille Saint-Saëns’s evocative 1886 favorite. Long a standby of the “light” classical-music repertoire, Carnival continues to be many a child’s first introduction to live orchestral performance. Prelutsky, the 2006 American Children’s Poet Laureate, has created a suite of lively, appealing poems that combine perfectly with inventive musical impressions of such animals as a lion, elephants, a tortoise and a swan. GrandPré employs a vibrant hibiscus flower–toned palette in her whimsical interpretations of the animals featured. The CD prepared especially to accompany the book is a knockout. Both music and poetry come alive in the poet’s telling and a world-class performance by the prestigious Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn. Their interpretation is fresh, engaging and exciting. A helpful note on the composer and his piece rounds out a fine package— it’s an irresistible poetic and musical experience for youngsters. (Picture book/poetry. 6-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-375-86458-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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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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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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