Dishes up a tasty round of youthful derring-do with several meaty topics on the side.

The popular chef invites readers on a food-filled quest to save both our planet and a magic forest.

Waking to a savory bacon sandwich served by his publican mother, 9 ½-year-old Billy throws off the sheets and rises to join his best friends on a venture into mysterious Waterfall Woods. Intrepid Anna grew up in foster care before being adopted; Andy has earned his nickname, the Fart Blaster; and avid naturalist Jimmy, who moved to the village from London, is Black in a human cast that otherwise appears white. While stopping to share yummy smoked salmon and other snacks, the kids meet Basil the Sprite and go on to a quick series of exploits, including exposing an illegal operation that is polluting the local river while turning factory-farmed turkeys into pink slime nuggets. Billy finds a way to approach more common challenges too, such as coping with his reading and attention difficulties at school. Along with plenty of spot art and some snigger-inducing scenes, such as one showing Anna lighting up one of Andy’s humungous blasts, Armiño strews lively, full-page views of the pals grabbing a bite, hanging out in a spacious treehouse, or marveling at a flock of Sprites. Oliver dangles several open threads to spice up interest in future episodes, leaves his Everylad chowing down on a luscious ploughman’s lunch, and tempts further kitchen exploits with a trio of recipes.

Dishes up a tasty round of youthful derring-do with several meaty topics on the side. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023

ISBN: 9781774884140

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023


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

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


Certain to steal hearts.

In this follow-up to 2020’s The One and Only Bob, Ruby the elephant is still living at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary.

She’s apprehensive about her Tuskday, a rite of passage for young elephants when she’ll give a speech in front of the rest of the herd. Luckily, she can confide in her Uncle Ivan, who is next door in Gorilla World, and Uncle Bob, the dog who lives nearby with human friend Julia. Ruby was born in an unspecified part of Africa, later ending up on display in the mall, where she met Ivan, Bob, and Julia. The unexpected arrival of someone from Ruby’s past life on the savanna revives memories both warmly nostalgic and deeply traumatic. An elephant glossary and Castelao’s charming, illustrated guide to elephant body language help immerse readers in Ruby’s world. Goofy, playful, and mischievous Ruby is fully dimensional, as she has shown her bravery during the many hardships of her young life. Applegate deftly tempers themes of grief and loss with compassion and humor as Ruby finds her place in the herd. The author’s note touches on climate change, the illegal ivory trade, and conservation efforts, but the highly emotive framing of the story through the memories of a bewildered baby elephant emphasizes the impact of lines such as “ ‘in Africa,’ I say softly, ‘there were bad people,’ ” without offering readers a nuanced understanding of the broader context that drives poaching.

Certain to steal hearts. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780063080089

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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