BOY'S BEST FRIEND

Well-rounded characters and an interesting concept make this a solid read.

George’s beloved dog, Bart, seems to always know when the Cape Cod grade schooler will be returning home and waits eagerly for his arrival.

Encouraged by Banks’ co-author, biologist Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, author of the real-life book Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home (1999), with whom he exchanges many emails, George decides to begin a scientific investigation of his dog’s skill for a school project. Lester, a new classmate, has just moved into the neighborhood and is really missing his former home in Denver. He’s an upbeat kid who’s determined, most of the time, to try to make the best of his new situation. Lester’s dog also seems able to anticipate when he’ll come home. Coincidentally, George’s best friend, Kyra, recently moved away. While the setup is both convenient and obvious—two needy boys with similar interests who could do much to help each other out but can’t seem to find their way there—it doesn’t diminish the satisfaction of watching that process happen. George and Lester manage their investigation into human-animal telepathy in a way that is both valuable and inspiring. Lester, who spends a lot of his time repeating the mantra “Moving is fun. Change can be positive,” is particularly appealing, but nearly all of the attractively genial characters are convincingly developed.

Well-rounded characters and an interesting concept make this a solid read. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-38008-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

HOW TO SPEAK DOLPHIN

Dolphin lovers will appreciate this look at our complicated relationship with these marine mammals.

Is dolphin-assisted therapy so beneficial to patients that it’s worth keeping a wild dolphin captive?

Twelve-year-old Lily has lived with her emotionally distant oncologist stepfather and a succession of nannies since her mother died in a car accident two years ago. Nannies leave because of the difficulty of caring for Adam, Lily’s severely autistic 4-year-old half brother. The newest, Suzanne, seems promising, but Lily is tired of feeling like a planet orbiting the sun Adam. When she meets blind Zoe, who will attend the same private middle school as Lily in the fall, Lily’s happy to have a friend. However, Zoe’s take on the plight of the captive dolphin, Nori, used in Adam’s therapy opens Lily’s eyes. She knows she must use her influence over her stepfather, who is consulting on Nori’s treatment for cancer (caused by an oil spill), to free the animal. Lily’s got several fine lines to walk, as she works to hold onto her new friend, convince her stepfather of the rightness of releasing Nori, and do what’s best for Adam. In her newest exploration of animal-human relationships, Rorby’s lonely, mature heroine faces tough but realistic situations. Siblings of children on the spectrum will identify with Lily. If the tale flirts with sentimentality and some of the characters are strident in their views, the whole never feels maudlin or didactic.

Dolphin lovers will appreciate this look at our complicated relationship with these marine mammals. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-67605-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

MUSIC FOR TIGERS

A beautiful conservation story told in a rich setting and peopled with memorable characters.

Unlike the rest of her nature-obsessed family, Louisa wants to be a musician, not a biologist.

But when Louisa’s mother finds out that the Australian government is about to destroy the Tasmanian rainforest camp their family has managed for decades, she insists that Louisa leave Toronto and spend the summer on the strange, small island with her even stranger uncle Ruff. But when Uncle Ruff gives Louisa a copy of her great-grandmother’s journal, Louisa becomes fascinated with her family’s history of secretly protecting endangered species, including the mysterious Tasmanian tiger, widely regarded as extinct. With the help of her new friend and neighbor Colin—a boy who has autism spectrum disorder—Louisa deepens her connection with her family’s land, with history, and with her love of music. Kadarusman masterfully creates a lush, magical world where issues associated with conservation, neurodiversity, and history intersect in surprising and authentic ways. The book’s small cast of characters (principals seem all White) is well drawn and endearing. Crucially, the author acknowledges the original, Indigenous inhabitants of the land as experts, something rarely seen in books about environmental degradation. Louisa’s narratorial voice strikes the right balance of curiosity, timidity, and growing confidence, and her character’s transformation feels both incredibly natural and incredibly rewarding to behold.

A beautiful conservation story told in a rich setting and peopled with memorable characters. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77278-054-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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