Somber and urgent eco-fantasy, understated and tender.

In a darkening city, with only a few human, animal and insect allies, Kester toils to avert corporate violence and an animal uprising.

In The Last Wild (2014), Kester escaped a creepy prison/school (he was aided by cockroaches and pigeons) and became a Wildness—a leader of a group of animals called a wild. But animals weren’t supposed to exist anymore, and they still aren’t: A virus killed the vast majority, and the rest are vulnerable to corporate-ordered cullers who shoot on sight. Kester’s father invented a cure for the virus, but evil company Factorium locked him up for it. This second volume takes place in Kester’s home city. Cullers threaten his wild, and Factorium seeks a mysterious weapon that Kester’s friend Polly is guarding. Underground, a different wild—a dark wild—plans to swarm into the streets, destroy the city and kill all humans. Feeling guilty for deaths that have occurred and desperate to avoid more, Kester slogs through a literal mountain of garbage, into underground caves and up onto a dam, all as Torday’s city settings become darker and wetter. Starlings take down a helicopter; Kester fights a dog with steel teeth. By the end, Kester’s wild is vastly increased, but defeating the corporation and restoring the natural world remain for next time.

Somber and urgent eco-fantasy, understated and tender. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01555-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014



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


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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