A diverting, fast-paced thriller aimed at girls.

In Kehret’s neatly plotted suspense story, Emmy Rushford, a valiant sixth-grade girl, stumbles onto a burglar’s lair while helping a youngster get food for herself and her hungry family.

Tenderhearted Emmy, whose mother is a judge for a local department store’s essay contest, stumbles across an entry from Sophie, a fifth-grade girl whose family is temporarily too poor to buy food. Emmy decides to make Sophie’s family her school community-service project, even though her mother has explicitly told her that the contest entries are confidential and that she could lose her job if it’s discovered that she has disclosed any information. To protect her mother, who, like Emmy, is not given much in the way of character complexity, Emmy makes an understandable kid’s judgment: She decides not to tell her mother what she’s up to. After a series of plausible plot twists, the situation spins out of control, and Emmy finds herself matching wits with a nasty thief, one who isn’t above a spot of kidnapping. How Emmy keeps her wits and uses her smarts as the situation escalates is the main pleasure in this suspenseful yet not too scary page-turner for middle-grade readers. Some oddball classmates add touches of humor, though a lightly sketched subplot about Emmy’s weight loss seems to belong in another tale entirely.

A diverting, fast-paced thriller aimed at girls. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-525-42652-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014


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


The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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