A sweet and satisfying mystery.

When things start to go missing in Urchin Beach, including a precious town symbol, Amelia and her brothers and sisters are determined to find the thief and save an honored tradition.

The Dragonfly Day Festival is a beloved event for Amelia MacGuffin’s family and many others. People come from all over to their small Pacific Northwest town to swing the wooden staff, which has a dragonfly-shaped mark on it, believing that three twirls over their heads will bring good luck into their lives. After the staff is stolen just days before the big celebration, a series of ill-timed misfortunes befalls the area. Family life unfolds against this backdrop. Amelia, who is about to start sixth grade, sits at the awkward and sacred intersection between childhood and young adulthood. She’s responsible, quick-witted, and introspective, a likable main character. Her siblings Bridget and Colin have their own useful and unique personality traits, and Duncan and Emma, the twin toddlers, are adorable tag-alongs. When a lovable dog they name Doc comes into their lives, the kids do everything they can to convince their parents to keep him, a journey that includes surprises. The central whodunit buoys readers along, the answer delightfully being both unpredictable and obvious. Amelia and her family are White; there is ethnic diversity among her friends and other secondary characters. This is a well-imagined, absorbing world, the story original and inviting.

A sweet and satisfying mystery. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 9781338818581

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023


The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952


Certain to steal hearts.

In this follow-up to 2020’s The One and Only Bob, Ruby the elephant is still living at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary.

She’s apprehensive about her Tuskday, a rite of passage for young elephants when she’ll give a speech in front of the rest of the herd. Luckily, she can confide in her Uncle Ivan, who is next door in Gorilla World, and Uncle Bob, the dog who lives nearby with human friend Julia. Ruby was born in an unspecified part of Africa, later ending up on display in the mall, where she met Ivan, Bob, and Julia. The unexpected arrival of someone from Ruby’s past life on the savanna revives memories both warmly nostalgic and deeply traumatic. An elephant glossary and Castelao’s charming, illustrated guide to elephant body language help immerse readers in Ruby’s world. Goofy, playful, and mischievous Ruby is fully dimensional, as she has shown her bravery during the many hardships of her young life. Applegate deftly tempers themes of grief and loss with compassion and humor as Ruby finds her place in the herd. The author’s note touches on climate change, the illegal ivory trade, and conservation efforts, but the highly emotive framing of the story through the memories of a bewildered baby elephant emphasizes the impact of lines such as “ ‘in Africa,’ I say softly, ‘there were bad people,’ ” without offering readers a nuanced understanding of the broader context that drives poaching.

Certain to steal hearts. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780063080089

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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