This striking book and its companion will be welcome in schools and homes where language is a focus. (Informational picture...

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A FILTH OF STARLINGS

Like its companion title, A Drove of Bullocks (2011), this compendium of collective nouns for 20 different animal groups is imaginatively illustrated with visual plays on the words and accompanied by short, relevant descriptions and realistic silhouettes.

Drove covers mostly mammals and insects; Filth includes birds and aquatic animals. The two titles work well as a pair. These are all genuine words, ranging from the familiar “flock of geese” (though the flocked wallpaper background may be a puzzle) to the unusual “smack of jellyfish.” The spare images are set on double-page spreads. Author-designers Peter and Ann Scott, working as PatrickGeorge, make liberal use of silhouettes and only a few intense colors per image. Some are beautiful, like the “kaleidoscope of butterflies,” and many are gently humorous, like the “pod of dolphins” wearing iPods and earbuds. The “murder of crows” carries weapons from a Clue game. The short descriptive paragraphs explain the group name. In one unfortunate lapse, the authors refer to a stingray’s venomous tail; actually, it’s only a small barb on the tail. A few Briticisms in these titles, first published in England in 2009, may puzzle American readers, but they add to the language interest.

This striking book and its companion will be welcome in schools and homes where language is a focus. (Informational picture book. 8-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-9562558-1-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: PatrickGeorge/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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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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Fans of Love That Dog (2001) and Hate That Cat (2010) will find much to love in this story of a girl, a cow, and so much...

MOO

Newbery Medalist Creech touches on themes of loss, friendship, and belonging in this appealing tale of a young girl’s unlikely relationship with Zora, an enormous belted Galloway.

When 12-year-old Reena’s parents lose their newspaper jobs in the big city, they decide to change the flight plan of their lives and move to a small coastal town in Maine. Reena and her brother, Luke, “a seven-year-old complexity,” are volunteered by their mother to help Mrs. Falala, an elderly and ostensibly cantankerous woman whose menagerie of animals includes a pig named Paulie, a cat named China, a snake named Edna, and the ornery, stubborn, slobbering, bellowing cow, Zora. Soon Luke is teaching Mrs. Falala to draw, and Reena is preparing to show Zora at the upcoming fair. The book’s playful use of words sets this novel apart. Not only does Creech seamlessly intersperse prose and poetry, but the design manipulates typeface, font, setting, and spacing to paint word-pictures, in some instances creating concrete poetry while in others emphasizing a few words on the page—an accentuation that makes the story come alive and deftly communicates the range of emotions, from humor to sorrow, that the story conveys. Luke, Reena, and most of their new neighbors are likely white; Beat, an older girl who helps Reena learn about cows, is dark-skinned.

Fans of Love That Dog (2001) and Hate That Cat (2010) will find much to love in this story of a girl, a cow, and so much more. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-241524-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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