Nuanced and gently-paced, share this with imaginative young readers dealing with change.

TILLY'S MOONLIGHT GARDEN

If Tilly’s world seems surreal, it is because it has been upended: Her mother is absent, bedridden with a difficult pregnancy, the family has moved, and Tilly’s best friend is miles away.

Starting school where the girls seem cliquish is hard without her mom to talk to. But there are some things about the new house and grounds that lend Tilly courage, such as the fox that enchants her nightly. In parallel to her mother’s condition, the fox is expecting a litter. Then there is the girl, Helen, whom Tilly meets in the garden in the moonlight. Whether Helen is real, a ghost, or a product of Tilly’s dreams will tease children into spirited debate. What is sure is that Helen serves as a stand-in for a companion until Tilly makes friends with Susila. Briticisms and an unusual syntax may put off some readers. Others will be lulled by the slow-moving, dreamlike quality of the writing until they, like Tilly, will be barely aware of how the real world begins to reassert itself as the pieces come together: Mom feels better after giving birth, Tilly looks forward to teaching her baby brother everything she knows, and Susila shows promise as a friend who will enjoy stories about the fox in the garden.

Nuanced and gently-paced, share this with imaginative young readers dealing with change. (Magical realism. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7730-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A sweet adventure and a paean to imagination and childhood innocence.

THE LAND OF ROAR

From the Land of Roar series , Vol. 1

A fantasy world comes to life and lures its young creators back into it in this imaginative middle-grade debut and U.K. import.

Narrator Arthur always loved playing make-believe in Grandad’s attic with his twin sister, Rose. Years ago they dreamed up Roar, a magical land that they entered via an old fold-up cot that acted as a portal. Now that they are 11 and starting school at Langdon Academy, Rose has new friends and wants nothing to do with her brother or their imaginary world. Rose may be done with Roar, but it’s not finished with her. When their grandfather is kidnapped and taken into Roar, Arthur and Rose must team up to mount a rescue mission. McLachlan does an excellent job of establishing the sibling tension before introducing the fantasy elements, and Rose’s desire to grow up and fit in feels as familiar and accessible as Arthur’s yearning to remain a child. While obviously reminiscent of classic fantasy, this narrative’s sheer inventiveness marks it as distinct. The twins’ widowed grandfather, a larger-than-life jokester from Mauritius, is a Peter Pan–like figure whose abduction brings the narrative into Roar, allowing the text and Mantle’s illustrations to go wild with creativity. The use of a wordless double-page spread to depict Arthur’s arrival into the fantasy realm is particularly inventive. Arthur and Rose are depicted as kids of color.

A sweet adventure and a paean to imagination and childhood innocence. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-298271-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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