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

READ REVIEW

SWIMMING WITH DOLPHINS

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 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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