A gentle, enjoyable tale of interspecies trust and kindness, with some excitement to boot.


Siblings vacationing in the tropics rescue a wounded shark, who returns the favor, in this children’s book.

Sabrina and Stephen, sister and brother, have left the United States to accompany their marine scientist parents to a South Pacific island. Exploring the beach during a gorgeous pink sunrise, they discover an injured baby shark trapped in a tide pool and patch up the cut on his fin. The waterproof bandage will hold in the pool, but swimming in the ocean isn’t safe yet. For two months, Sabrina and Stephen feed the baby shark with fish and crabs until he grows too big for the pool and they return him to the open sea. At first, the shark stays near the beach, having grown to trust his human friends, but then eventually swims farther away. Later that summer, a tourist boat founders on a coral reef, its passengers clinging to the overturned hull. The siblings take their motorboat to help—but the splashing passengers attract sharks. Then, a great white shark appears and chases the others off. As the scar on his fin testifies, it’s the shark whom the kids saved. They lasso their helpful aquatic friend, who tows the tourists to land. In his latest children’s book, Pellico effectively updates the classic fable “Androcles and the Lion.” A shark’s gratitude is about as unlikely as a lion’s, but it’s a sweet story that teaches readers about caring for animals. It takes real work for Sabrina and Stephen to gather food and tend to the shark week after week, but they do it gladly. The tale finishes nicely with its dramatic rescue. Illustrating her third book with the author, Berry provides digital pictures that vividly convey the island’s natural beauty.

A gentle, enjoyable tale of interspecies trust and kindness, with some excitement to boot.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73391-301-0

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Moonbow Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2021

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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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  • Newbery Honor Book


A 10-year old girl learns to adjust to a strange town, makes some fascinating friends, and fills the empty space in her heart thanks to a big old stray dog in this lyrical, moving, and enchanting book by a fresh new voice. India Opal’s mama left when she was only three, and her father, “the preacher,” is absorbed in his own loss and in the work of his new ministry at the Open-Arms Baptist Church of Naomi [Florida]. Enter Winn-Dixie, a dog who “looked like a big piece of old brown carpet that had been left out in the rain.” But, this dog had a grin “so big that it made him sneeze.” And, as Opal says, “It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with a dog who has a good sense of humor.” Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal meets Miss Franny Block, an elderly lady whose papa built her a library of her own when she was just a little girl and she’s been the librarian ever since. Then, there’s nearly blind Gloria Dump, who hangs the empty bottle wreckage of her past from the mistake tree in her back yard. And, Otis, oh yes, Otis, whose music charms the gerbils, rabbits, snakes and lizards he’s let out of their cages in the pet store. Brush strokes of magical realism elevate this beyond a simple story of friendship to a well-crafted tale of community and fellowship, of sweetness, sorrow and hope. And, it’s funny, too. A real gem. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0776-2

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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