Rugged cross-country adventure with a diverse cast of two- and four-legged fellow travelers and a sturdy main character who...

THE WOLF WILDER

A young Russian who has known more wolves in her life than people sets out to rescue her mother from a czarist prison.

In a remote area not far from St. Petersburg, 12-year-old Feodora, “a dark and stormy girl,” and her strong mother, Marina Petrovich, take wolves that have grown too dangerous for the aristocratic households in which they have been raised from captured cubs and train them to live on their own in the wild. Feo’s idyll comes to a sudden end when brutal, sadistic Gen. Mikail Rakov, declaring that wolves are all vermin, descends to burn the cabin and hustle her mother off to Kresty Prison in the city. Off she sets on a seemingly quixotic rescue, with beloved semiferal charges Black, White, and Gray (“a bunch of the most beautiful criminals”), a newly born wolf pup, 13-year-old army deserter Ilya, and growing bands of children and disaffected villagers in her wake. Though historical events up to and including the February Revolution take place in the background, Feo’s harrowing journey is the story’s focus. Through bitter storms and ambushes, terror and tragedy, an unrelenting sense of purpose lightened with flashes of humor—“Black had eaten three toes, which, technically, had belonged to an English lord”—carries Feo and her allies to a decisive confrontation with Rakov.

Rugged cross-country adventure with a diverse cast of two- and four-legged fellow travelers and a sturdy main character who is more than a little “wilded” herself. (Historical fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1942-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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

HOW TO SPEAK DOLPHIN

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. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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