Laced with dreams, this perplexing fantasy rewards persistent readers.

THE WOLF OF CAPE FEN

Eliza Serling embarks on a transformative quest when a strange wolf attacks her younger sister.

Eliza, nearly 12, lives on Cape Fen with Pa and Winnie, her sister. After her mother’s mysterious disappearance four years ago, Eliza stopped dreaming about a future away from Cape Fen and tries to be a sister and mother to Winnie. Baron Dire, descendent of the first Dire Witch, who arrived on Cape Fen in 1811, controls the island, imprisoning its inhabitants for the magic their dreams provide. When the baron’s Wolf companion unexpectedly lunges at Winnie, Eliza’s stunned: Dire and his Wolf cannot hurt someone unless they have bargained with him, and neither Eliza nor Winnie has ever bargained. Determined to protect Winnie, Eliza searches for clues explaining the Wolf’s attack. Did Pa bargain with Dire? Did Aunt Zilpha? Could her missing mother have bargained with Dire to escape Cape Fen? With the Wolf lurking, Eliza discovers surprising things about her origins and her family and eventually realizes she, too, must bargain with Dire if she hopes to save Winnie and herself. Unfolding gradually as Eliza relentlessly pieces the past together, this intriguing mystery culminates in a startling, literally transforming climax. Black-and-white chapter heads echo the dream theme.

Laced with dreams, this perplexing fantasy rewards persistent readers. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0961-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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