HAVEN'S SECRET

From the Powers series , Vol. 1

Unspectacular but pleasant.

Eco-fantasy from an actor, her sister, and a noted author for young people.

Parker and Ellie McFadden are twins, but they haven’t been close since their mother’s disappearance and presumed death while scuba diving during her work as an environmental activist five years ago. Awkward Ellie has few friends besides her pet goldfish, while outgoing Parker is a middle school sports star who spends most of her time with her best friend. But the day after the twins turn 12, they are whisked away by their mother’s aunt and uncle to Haven, a combined farm, sanctuary, and animal rehab center with a house that is a surreal masterpiece of salvaged materials situated on land that seems unusually tied to the people living on it. Ellie and Parker gradually begin to understand that their mother’s legacy is a power that’s tied to balancing the world; greedy humans destroy the planet, and the girls’ family helps fix that—and now the twins have their own powers and responsibilities. The messaging is heavy-handed, while the writing veers from overwritten and overly detailed to didactic, which detracts from the imaginative setting. Much of the early tension concerns the strained relationship between the sisters, which resolves easily, while greater mysteries are saved for the end, many of them introduced last minute to set up future volumes. All primary characters are coded White.

Unspectacular but pleasant. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5261-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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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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...

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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

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