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ONE BRAVE SUMMER

From the Quartz Creek Ranch series , Vol. 1

A good book to hand out to horse-crazy kids.

A middle school girl reluctantly experiences the therapeutic power of horses during a summer at Quartz Creek Ranch.

When Paley Dixon’s parents abruptly moved the family from LA to Denver just before the start of her sixth-grade year, Paley had trouble making friends and instead retreated into all-night video gaming. Now her parents have stuck her for six weeks of the summer on a ranch full of kids with troubled pasts—and no internet. Paley, who along with another camper and a trainer is black, is assigned a beautiful horse named Prince but lacks the self-confidence to lead him, let alone ride him. While she grows to like some of the other campers—there are only five—others send her further into her shell. The owners of the neighboring ranch present some stereotypical conflict, calling the campers “delinquents.” (None of them has done anything particularly terrible.) A more unusual dilemma comes when the campers find a fossilized dinosaur skeleton and must work together to protect it from harm. This is series fiction, but it’s a step above the usual breathless horsey fare, with well-drawn characters and realistic horse situations. Most notably, they’re not all white or girls! Fearful, white Hanna, a girl who copes with her overcritical parents by stealing, is the featured protagonist among a different but similarly diverse group of campers in the simultaneously publishing Shy Girl & Shy Guy.

A good book to hand out to horse-crazy kids. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5124-3088-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Darby Creek

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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THE ONE AND ONLY FAMILY

From the One and Only series , Vol. 4

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series.

Beloved gorilla Ivan becomes a father to rambunctious twins in this finale to a quartet that began with 2012’s Newbery Award–winning The One and Only Ivan.

Life hasn’t always been easy for silverback gorilla Ivan, who’s spent most of his life being mistreated in captivity. Now he’s living in a wildlife sanctuary, but he still gets to see his two best friends. Young elephant Ruby lives in the grassy habitat next door, and former stray dog Bob has a home with one of the zookeepers. All three were rescued from the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan’s expanded world includes fellow gorilla Kinyani—the two are about to become parents, and Ivan is revisiting the traumas of his past in light of what he wants the twins to know. When the subject inevitably comes up, Applegate’s trust and respect for readers is evident. She doesn’t shy away from hard truths as Ivan wrestles with the fact that poachers killed his family. Readers will need the context provided by knowledge of the earlier books to feel the full emotional impact of this story. The rushed ending unfortunately falls flat, detracting from the central message that a complex life can still contain hope. Final art not seen.

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series. (gorilla games, glossary, author’s note) (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063221123

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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THE WILD ROBOT PROTECTS

From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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