Youngsters will eagerly jump in for another fast, fun read.

GUINEA DOG 3

From the Guinea Dog series , Vol. 3

It’s summer vacation, and in this third in the light-reading Guinea Dog series, Rufus’ and Murph’s families are taking their traditional trip to the lake, unusual guinea pigs included.

Rufus is excited to share the experience with Fido, his guinea “dog” from Petopia, the store that disappeared as fast as it popped up. Unfortunately, his mom has also invited the families of Rufus’ nemesis, Dmitri, and a girl, Lurena. At least Lurena will be bringing Fido’s daughter, the guinea “squirrel.” Let the games begin! While swimming, Rufus nearly drowns Fido, who is only resuscitated after another camper, Pablo, offers advice. He joins their circle but, oddly, won’t swim. Murph saves Rufus from his dad’s grilled mushrooms (“Seriously?”) with a well-timed hot dog. Lurena turns out to be a loyal ally. Bully Dmitri’s behavior becomes so bad that even even-tempered Murph notices. Rufus narrates it all with his by-now-familiar, entertaining mix of preteen self-conscious self-involvement and dawning maturity. Murph and Dmitri are a bit one-dimensional, but in them, readers will easily recognize kids they love and love to hate, respectively. Pablo offers a nice counterpoint to Rufus’ hesitancy when he boldly confronts his self-imposed limits when pushed. Why? Because Petopia has popped up again, and Pablo is now the proud owner of a guinea “otter,” meaning Pablo must swim.

Youngsters will eagerly jump in for another fast, fun read. (Animal fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60684-554-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Egmont USA

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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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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