A touching tale of hope, of holding on when you can, and of letting go when it’s the right thing to do.

BUDDY

Twelve-year-old Li’l T offers an absorbing first-person account of a poor, tightly knit, multigenerational family’s experience in Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, focused through the lens of Li’l T’s relationship with a special dog named Buddy.

Unlike other titles that deal with Katrina, this one eases up to the big event, enabling readers to establish a strong connection with the characters by slowly revealing how Li’l T and Buddy met and how Li’l T helped Buddy recover from the amputation of one of his legs. When the epic storm comes into the picture, readers find themselves as heartbroken as Li’l T when the family must leave Buddy behind in the evacuation. Li’l T struggles mightily during the family’s temporary stay in Mississippi, suffering the loss of his dog, the family home and, finally, his beloved and now disconsolate grandfather. When the family moves back to New Orleans, Li’l T learns that he just might be able to get Buddy back from the family in California who has adopted him. The scenes involving the neighborhood criminal element and some final plot twists seem a little contrived, but Li’l T’s voice and love for Buddy feel authentic, and those elements are enough to carry the story.

A touching tale of hope, of holding on when you can, and of letting go when it’s the right thing to do. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-01403-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Reflective children will revel in this thought-provoking world.

THEY THREW US AWAY

From the Teddies Saga series , Vol. 1

The journey to find a child becomes an existential quest for an abandoned teddy bear.

Buddy is not just any stuffed bear, but a blue Furrington Teddy with a Real Silk Heart. So why did he wake up in a landfill with other Furringtons of varying hues? A more pressing matter, however, is escaping Trashland and its murderous gulls and bulldozers. Yearning to connect with a child and achieve a state of peaceful Forever Sleep, Buddy and his new friends of differing temperaments and gifts set out on a harrowing journey through the city to find children who will want them. As they encounter other Furringtons in disarray, this opener in The Teddies Saga series becomes a mystery about why these teddies are being harmed in the first place. While the visceral narrative follows the teddy troupe’s adventurous challenges and survival, its focus is on Buddy’s inner struggles as he ponders identity, leadership, and other existential dilemmas. Kraus doesn’t shy away from anger, fear, death, and other dark subjects; instead they become opportunities for growth in difficult environments. Cai’s intense, slightly nightmarish grayscale illustrations add immeasurably to the text. Reminiscent of Watership Down in theme and structure, the novel’s intermittent teddy creation stories also become parables of a moral code and extend the epic story arc. A cliffhanger ending sets the scene for the next installment.

Reflective children will revel in this thought-provoking world. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22440-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves.

SCAREDY CAT

Two shelter cats take on a mysterious puss with weird powers who is terrorizing the feline community.

Hardly have timorous (and aptly named) Poop and her sophisticated buddy, Pasha, been brought home by their new “human beans” for a two-week trial than they are accosted by fiery-eyed Scaredy Cat, utterly trashing the kitchen with a click of his claws and, hissing that he’s in charge of the neighborhood, threatening that if they don’t act like proper cats—disdaining ordinary cat food and any summons (they are not dogs, after all), clawing the furniture instead of the scratching post, and showing like “cattitude”—it’ll be back to the shelter for them. Will Poop and Pasha prove to be fraidycats or flee to the cowed clowder of homeless cats hiding from the bully in the nearby woods? Nope, they are made of sterner stuff and resolutely set out to enlist feline allies in a “quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of purrs!” Cast into a gazillion very short chapters related by furry narrators Poop and Pasha, who are helpfully depicted in portrait vignettes by Herzog at each chapter’s head, the ensuing adventures test the defiant kitties’ courage (and, in some cases, attention spans) on the way to a spooky but poignant climax set, appropriately enough as it happens, in a pet graveyard.

A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves. (Adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49443-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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