The subtle pathos that underlies the lighthearted humor throughout this series is prominent here; the astringent, sobering...

THE GREAT CAT CONSPIRACY

From the Great Critter Capers series , Vol. 3

In their latest adventure, enterprising 9-year-olds Anna and Suzanne tackle dictatorship (parental veto on removing the walls separating their homes), animal disappearances (cats and the vicar’s prized koi), clutter (Dad’s) and hoarding (the Cat Lady’s).

Everyone’s relieved when the fierce New Cat, known for hunting small animals and hiding their remains, goes missing. Everyone, that is, except Anna’s little brother Tom; the New Cat rescued him from Miss Matheson’s Chihuahua (its bite is worse than its bark). Abetted by elderly neighbors Mr. Tucker and former policewoman Mrs. Rotherham, the children investigate suspects: Anna’s parents (compensating the vicar, whose prize koi eaten by the New Cat cost them 220 pounds), the vicar and Miss Matheson. Then there’s the Cat Lady, whose cat-filled home is shrouded in mystery and piles of junk. As usual, the text is enhanced by dictionary definitions—AWOL, abduct, interrogate, stakeout—lists, diagrams and, especially, Shaw’s inspired, ironic illustrations. Davies is adept at portraying the gulf between adults’ stated beliefs and their behavior, and mixed motives guide everyone’s actions.

The subtle pathos that underlies the lighthearted humor throughout this series is prominent here; the astringent, sobering ending leaves readers with questions to ponder. (Fiction. 8-12) 

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4513-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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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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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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