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THE DOG KNIGHT

From the Dog Knight series , Vol. 1

All hail the paw-some Dog Knight!

A dog-loving tween drummer discovers a magical canine connection.

After coming out to their supportive mom and (now ex–) best friend, Dallas, nonbinary Frankie Bryant faces bullying from Dallas and others that leaves them feeling unsure of where they fit. After two run-ins with a friendly golden retriever who always seems to be in the right place at the right time, Frankie hits their head and is transported to the Omniversal Doghouse, the palace of “the Pawtheon, the secret legion of dog heroes.” The Pawtheon lend Frankie a helmet that allows them to understand dog-kind. They learn of a magical alliance between humans and dogs: Humans care for dogs, and dogs protect humans from chaos-sowing, batlike gremlins. The Pawtheon have recruited Frankie as the next potential Dog Knight, connector and protector of the two realms. The catch? They have to successfully complete six trials, one for each of the dog virtues, back in the human realm while living with their dog-allergic mom. Readers will root for Frankie, whose desire to find their place will resonate. The rebuilding of Frankie and Dallas’ fractured friendship is careful and authentic. Sparse backgrounds leave space for expressive human and dog faces to shine. Frankie and their mom read Black; background characters are racially diverse. The gremlins use ungrammatical English, unfortunately making an implicit connection between grammar and morality, but quality queer representation and a strong narrative voice make this sweet, funny series opener a winner.

All hail the paw-some Dog Knight! (content warning) (Graphic fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9781250756725

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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THE WILD ROBOT PROTECTS

From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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THE ONE AND ONLY FAMILY

From the One and Only series , Vol. 4

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series.

Beloved gorilla Ivan becomes a father to rambunctious twins in this finale to a quartet that began with 2012’s Newbery Award–winning The One and Only Ivan.

Life hasn’t always been easy for silverback gorilla Ivan, who’s spent most of his life being mistreated in captivity. Now he’s living in a wildlife sanctuary, but he still gets to see his two best friends. Young elephant Ruby lives in the grassy habitat next door, and former stray dog Bob has a home with one of the zookeepers. All three were rescued from the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan’s expanded world includes fellow gorilla Kinyani—the two are about to become parents, and Ivan is revisiting the traumas of his past in light of what he wants the twins to know. When the subject inevitably comes up, Applegate’s trust and respect for readers is evident. She doesn’t shy away from hard truths as Ivan wrestles with the fact that poachers killed his family. Readers will need the context provided by knowledge of the earlier books to feel the full emotional impact of this story. The rushed ending unfortunately falls flat, detracting from the central message that a complex life can still contain hope. Final art not seen.

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series. (gorilla games, glossary, author’s note) (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063221123

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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