Next book

CHESTER AND THE MAGIC 8 BALL

An uplifting middle-grade story that meets sadness head-on and cuddles up to what’s important in life.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A girl whose parents are going through a breakup clings to the belief that her rescue dog has psychic powers in Katz’s middle-grade novel.

Twelve-year-old Georgia wants a dog. She always has, but even more so now that her best friend, Emma, is away and her parents are fighting all the time. With her dad absent at work, Georgia convinces her mom to check out the dogs at the Humane Society. They fall in love with Chester, a gentle, affectionate, toothless schnoodle (a cross between a schnauzer and a poodle), but don’t consult Georgia’s dad before signing the adoption papers. Her dad promptly dubs Chester “Last Straw” and walks out on them. Georgia is distraught. She takes comfort in Chester but can’t help feeling that bringing him home drove her dad away. Then she discovers that Chester is psychic: Using Georgia’s Magic 8 Ball toy to give answers, he can predict the future—an ability that Georgia hopes to make use of in bringing her parents back together. But Georgia has other problems. Not only is Emma drifting into the friendship circle of Reagan (Georgia’s elementary school ex-friend and nemesis), she is also diagnosed with cancer. Can Georgia cope with both losing her best friend and her parents’ split? Does she even want to know the future? The author imbues Georgia with an upbeat voice and wild, fluctuating hopes (“I need a dog to love, to play with, a dog who will listen to me, and hang out with me, and maybe a dog who will stop my parents from arguing so much and bring us all together”) but also the doubts, insecurities, and moody despair one might expect from a 12-year-old going through tough times. The prose is a polished mix of dialogue, inner voice, and narrative. The characters all feel authentic (children and adults alike), and the story rattles along at a good pace through a series of short chapters, drawing the reader into Georgia’s world. While Katz tackles difficult issues of relevance to young readers—neither shying away from Georgia’s pain nor offering a trite, happy ending—Chester’s presence is a constant reassurance both to the characters and readers.

An uplifting middle-grade story that meets sadness head-on and cuddles up to what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2023

ISBN: 9781685131340

Page Count: 209

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023

Next book

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Newbery Medal Winner

Next book

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

From the One and Only series , Vol. 1

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Newbery Medal Winner

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. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

Categories:
Close Quickview