A bright medley of friendship, problem-solving, and identity ideal for emerging readers looking for the next step up from...

BIRD & SQUIRREL ON THE EDGE!

From the Bird & Squirrel series , Vol. 3

Best friends Bird and Squirrel embark upon a new graphic-novel adventure, in which they make a new friend and find the dynamics of their friendship changing.

Sky-blue, acorn-hatted Squirrel is nervous. He's afraid of everything—even dust. His best friend, the lemon-yellow, aviator-goggled Bird, is fearless. One day, on a stroll through their woodland home, they spy a bear cub cornered by a vicious pair of wolves. Bird can’t stand to see two against one ("that’s not right,” he declares), so he hatches a plan to pelt the lupine bullies with pine cones. Timid Squirrel however, misfires and accidentally beans poor Bird, knocking him out. Now Bird cannot remember who—or what—he is, and Squirrel is left to protect Bear and Bird from the ferocious wolves. The pair’s established dynamics have now reversed, leaving Bird now fearful and unsure and Squirrel having to step up and muster his courage. Although it’s a rather gentle story of animal amity, Burks has adroitly managed to infuse it with a rollicking pace, cutely quirky characters, and lively illustrations that practically leap off the page, creating a subtle complexity that is usually missing from such buddy tales.

A bright medley of friendship, problem-solving, and identity ideal for emerging readers looking for the next step up from leveled readers. (Graphic fiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-80425-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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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