An emotional story with a relatable animal protagonist and gentle messages about the interconnectedness of all life.



A young orca’s search for salmon turns into a magical odyssey in Hanna’s debut illustrated chapter book.

Over the course of this brief tale, a whale named Little O braves dangers and unfamiliar seas to find his mother, his pod mates, and the life-giving salmon that have disappeared from the whales’ usual feeding grounds. At various points, he’s threatened by a vicious killer whale who attacks and eats his own kind; he meets a helpful porpoise and a humorous otter; and he gets tangled in some flotsam and rescued by a great blue heron. He also befriends a salmon-seeking grizzly cub, and finds that he can speak with a soulful, light-skinned human named Ruby. The whale encounters the girl as she sails under the night sky and prays to the moon for the salmon to come back. (How humans factor into the ocean’s changes is present but subtly handled.) Little O finds comfort and inspiration in mystical, dream-time sojourns, which involve communing with Mother Nature, flying through the sky, and running through the forest in the form of a human boy. The book leans heavily into the formulaic uplift of slogans such as “follow your heart” and “embrace who you are.” However, Hanna, a poet and visual artist based in British Columbia, goes deeper, with vivid descriptive language; for instance, Little O, in his boy form, touches the clouds, “tugs at the fog, like picking apples from a tree, and scatters the fragile blossoms of white far below.” Throughout, the author communicates empathy and respect for nature through Little O’s adventures and reveals how the disappearance of salmon affects other creatures, including people. The cycle-of-life message at the end is deeply moving, and Hanna’s color illustrations are expressive, with delicate watercolor tints and curving, decorated shapes.

An emotional story with a relatable animal protagonist and gentle messages about the interconnectedness of all life.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5255-5015-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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