An excellent, engaging tale for a broad range of ages.

THE TINY HERO OF FERNY CREEK LIBRARY

Eddie is a vibrantly green bug who lives in Ferny Creek Elementary School. Could such a tiny critter become a hero?

After his aunt Min goes missing on a trip to the school’s library, he sets off to rescue her. But it turns out that she doesn’t need rescue quite as much as their school library does. With the librarian on maternity leave, the superintendent brings in wicked, archetypal Ms. Visch (“rhymes with squish”) as her replacement. Her only concern is to get rid of the beloved, welcoming library and replace it with an austere testing center. Since Eddie and Aunt Min can read, the library and its familiar works hold a special place in their hearts. Eddie begins to leave notes on the spines of some of their favorite books, hoping to sway Ms. Visch to make a better choice. Instead, she’s enraged. The children, believing the notes are the work of a much-loved volunteer who died (smiling) in the library, launch an effort to rescue the place, not even knowing why it’s in jeopardy. Bugs are fully rounded characters; people (referred to as Squishers) are just sketched in this bug’s-perspective third-person narrative. Rich with references to familiar tales and accompanied by realistic illustrations by Newbery honoree Jamieson, this effort will charm library lovers and would make a fine read-aloud, as brave, endearing Eddie navigates one terrible peril after another.

An excellent, engaging tale for a broad range of ages. (Fantasy. 5-12)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-244093-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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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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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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