TILL DEATH DO US BARK

From the 43 Old Cemetery Road series , Vol. 3

The third installment in this cheery little series set in the town of Ghastly adds several new characters: siblings Kitty and Kanine Breth and a dog loud enough to wake the dead. Once again, the sisters Klise deliver their story through letters, newspaper articles, notes and transcripts, all illustrated with M. Sarah Klise’s delightfully imaginative drawings. Seymour finds a dog, which everyone knows was owned by the recently deceased Noah Breth and which Seymour intends to keep. The dog, “Secret,” barks all night, however, disturbing even ghosts. Shadow the cat disappears, while Olive and Ignatius begin squabbling. Attempting to restore harmony, Seymour takes Secret and leaves. Meanwhile, the greedy heirs of Noah Breth arrive to squabble over his fortune. Rare coins keep turning up all over town. Everyone looks for Seymour and Secret. As always, the authors keep readers giggling with the clever, usually death-related names invented for their characters (M. Balm, Fay Tality and Mike Ondolences). Phrases turn nicely as well: During a written and rather heated conversation between Ignatius and Olive, she writes, “I refuse to continue this conversation if you’re going to raise your font at me.” Good, merry fun dances on every page, with bubbling humor for child and adult alike. (Humor. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-40036-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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The young folk and (of course) the animals are engagingly wrought in this tale with a strong ecological message.

WILLODEEN

An orphan loner’s small town faces a hard future after it unwittingly disrupts a natural cycle.

Willodeen is lucky that elderly retired thespians Mae and Birdie took her in after the wildfire that killed her parents and brother, not only because they’re a loving couple, but because they let her roam the woods in search of increasingly rare screechers—creatures so vile-tempered and stinky that the village elders of Perchance have put a bounty on them. The elders have other worries, though: The migratory hummingbears that have long nested in the area, drawing tourists to the lucrative annual Autumn Faire, have likewise nearly vanished. Could there be a connection? If there is, Willodeen is just the person to find it—but who would believe her? Applegate’s characters speak in pronouncements about life and nature that sometimes seem to address readers more than other characters, but the winsome illustrations lighten the thematic load. Screechers appear much like comically fierce warthogs and hummingbears, as small teddies with wings. Applegate traces a burgeoning friendship between her traumatized protagonist and Connor, a young artist who turns found materials into small animals so realistic that one actually comes to life. In the end, the townsfolk do listen and pitch in to make amends. Red-haired, gray-eyed Willodeen is cued as White; Connor has brown skin, and other human characters read as White by default.

The young folk and (of course) the animals are engagingly wrought in this tale with a strong ecological message. (Eco-fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-14740-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner

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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