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SWIMMING WITH DOLPHINS

Readers taking the plunge into new activities or new places will appreciate this uplifting tale.

A wheelchair-using seventh grader must overcome her fear in order to swim with the dolphins she loves.

For KT Wynn, leaving Iowa City and her BFFs for Fernbank, Florida, fewer than 60 days before her 13th birthday is already hard. Worse, she and her wheelchair, Sprinkle, have trouble fitting into the “jigsaw puzzle” of Fernbank Middle School, even after she meets outgoing Sabina (aka Socks) and her friends. Fortunately, Fernbank also offers the Dolphina Cove dolphin sanctuary—where KT gets the chance to swim with her favorite animals! But when it’s time, she discovers that “the thing [she loves] the most can also be the scariest.” Can she swim with dolphins and navigate the murky waters of middle school friendship? Though KT’s friends and classmates (and their hashtag-laden dialogue) are largely indistinguishable from one another, Paddock sympathetically explores homesickness and the anxious awkwardness of making friends. KT’s gradual overcoming of her dolphin fear is realistic, and her family is comfortingly supportive—particularly her 17-year-old sister, who sometimes has “mysterious teenager” moods but always has her back. KT tackles patronizing grown-ups with dry aplomb, and dolphin facts pepper her narrative. Most characters, including KT and her family, appear white. One is Jewish; another is Latinx. Socks has gluten and peanut allergies; her hairstyle, described as “lots of short, dark brown braids,” will likely lead readers to imagine her as black.

Readers taking the plunge into new activities or new places will appreciate this uplifting tale. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-53812-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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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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