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

AN UNUSUAL FRIEND

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

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

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. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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