THE WORD ON THE YARD

THE PONY WHISPERER, BOOK 1

Pia wishes her pony, Drummer, could talk; he’s a good friend, but she could do with a fully sympathetic ear. Since her dad’s run off with his “soul mate,” she and her mum have had to move to a new “teeny-weeny” house, which also means a new school, a new home for Drummer and a new group of kids around the barn. When she literally stumbles over an ancient statue of a Roman horse-goddess, it gives her the superpower she hoped for: full communication with not only Drummer, but all the horses she meets. Pia tries to keep her new talent a secret, but she has to tell one girl her horse needs a vet fast—and before she knows it, she’s on a TV talk show, billed as “The Pony Whisperer.” The plot may sound suspect, but this British import is actually cracking good fun. Pia handles everything from her Mum’s ancient new date to having cell-phone photos of her underwear texted around her new school with courage and humor—no room for angst here—and the ponies sound exactly true to form. The first in a series—horse-mad girls will snap it up. (Animal fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4022-3952-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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Fans of Love That Dog (2001) and Hate That Cat (2010) will find much to love in this story of a girl, a cow, and so much...

MOO

Newbery Medalist Creech touches on themes of loss, friendship, and belonging in this appealing tale of a young girl’s unlikely relationship with Zora, an enormous belted Galloway.

When 12-year-old Reena’s parents lose their newspaper jobs in the big city, they decide to change the flight plan of their lives and move to a small coastal town in Maine. Reena and her brother, Luke, “a seven-year-old complexity,” are volunteered by their mother to help Mrs. Falala, an elderly and ostensibly cantankerous woman whose menagerie of animals includes a pig named Paulie, a cat named China, a snake named Edna, and the ornery, stubborn, slobbering, bellowing cow, Zora. Soon Luke is teaching Mrs. Falala to draw, and Reena is preparing to show Zora at the upcoming fair. The book’s playful use of words sets this novel apart. Not only does Creech seamlessly intersperse prose and poetry, but the design manipulates typeface, font, setting, and spacing to paint word-pictures, in some instances creating concrete poetry while in others emphasizing a few words on the page—an accentuation that makes the story come alive and deftly communicates the range of emotions, from humor to sorrow, that the story conveys. Luke, Reena, and most of their new neighbors are likely white; Beat, an older girl who helps Reena learn about cows, is dark-skinned.

Fans of Love That Dog (2001) and Hate That Cat (2010) will find much to love in this story of a girl, a cow, and so much more. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-241524-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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