From the Kids Under the Stairs series , Vol. 3

A delightful school story that brings some booyah!

Who would’ve thought sweet dance moves and passion weren’t enough for some people?

In this third series entry, seventh grader Jordan J is obsessed with televised dance competition Fierce Across America, and auditions are coming to his Florida town! After his two-minute performance in front of the cameras, the fabulous host labels his choreography exceptional but his actual dancing abilities only so-so. Jordan is devastated, but Casey Price, another student at his school and the dance team captain, has made it to callbacks, and she asks Jordan to help her plan out an impressive routine. Meanwhile, Jordan is dealing with a few other issues, like getting his articles for newspaper club turned in on time, carving out “bro time” for himself and his friend Javier in their art class, and his family’s financial struggles after his mom is unexpectedly laid off. Then there’s the typical awkwardness of being Jordan J, dance maniac who can’t go see his therapist for now because of money issues. Holt excels at keeping Jordan’s neurodivergent behaviors and thoughts functionally realistic while he navigates a world where other characters casually acknowledge and support them. Rather than focusing on limitations, this work centers positive representation. Presented in varied formats, including online chats, news articles, notes, lists, brief scenes, and footnotes, the story will sustain readers’ interest. Two characters are cued as Latine; others are minimally described.

A delightful school story that brings some booyah! (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-79720-609-7

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022


Certain to steal hearts.

In this follow-up to 2020’s The One and Only Bob, Ruby the elephant is still living at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary.

She’s apprehensive about her Tuskday, a rite of passage for young elephants when she’ll give a speech in front of the rest of the herd. Luckily, she can confide in her Uncle Ivan, who is next door in Gorilla World, and Uncle Bob, the dog who lives nearby with human friend Julia. Ruby was born in an unspecified part of Africa, later ending up on display in the mall, where she met Ivan, Bob, and Julia. The unexpected arrival of someone from Ruby’s past life on the savanna revives memories both warmly nostalgic and deeply traumatic. An elephant glossary and Castelao’s charming, illustrated guide to elephant body language help immerse readers in Ruby’s world. Goofy, playful, and mischievous Ruby is fully dimensional, as she has shown her bravery during the many hardships of her young life. Applegate deftly tempers themes of grief and loss with compassion and humor as Ruby finds her place in the herd. The author’s note touches on climate change, the illegal ivory trade, and conservation efforts, but the highly emotive framing of the story through the memories of a bewildered baby elephant emphasizes the impact of lines such as “ ‘in Africa,’ I say softly, ‘there were bad people,’ ” without offering readers a nuanced understanding of the broader context that drives poaching.

Certain to steal hearts. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780063080089

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023


The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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