A rousing adventure that introduces the issue of elephant trafficking in a gentle and appropriate way.

TUA AND THE ELEPHANT

How do you hide an elephant?

Inspired by a trip to an Asian elephant refuge, Harris transports young readers to the lands of curry, banana leaves and the bustling Chiang Mai Night Market. Little 9-year-old Tua, which means “peanut” in Thai, finds a young, but very large captured elephant. Their connection is instant. But this elephant is chained, used as tourist bait. Tua must face dangers including poachers and treacherous rivers as she steals away with the young elephant, pursued by two menacing mahouts, or elephant drivers. Naming her new friend Pohn Pohn, Tua escapes with her to a Buddhist temple, where she learns of an elephant preserve in the mountains. Will Tua be successful in getting Pohn Pohn into the preserve? For a book aimed at middle graders, kudos on three fronts: providing a child’s-eye view of Thailand with foreign words to be decoded in context, creating a strong connection between the elephant and the girl and using a simple vocabulary to introduce the complex issue of poaching. Yoo’s multiple illustrations, done in charcoal and linoleum block prints, catapult the story even higher. Foreign yet familiar, the action is often humorous and reinforces the sweet bond between pachyderm and “peanut.”

A rousing adventure that introduces the issue of elephant trafficking in a gentle and appropriate way. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7781-7

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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Captain Amazing, the muscled hero of Metro City, is aging, and after a botched takedown of four nefarious villains, he...

SIDEKICKS

A veritable bonanza of capes, heroes and pets with superpowers abounds in illustrator Santat’s first solo graphic novel.

Captain Amazing, the muscled hero of Metro City, is aging, and after a botched takedown of four nefarious villains, he decides he is in need of a trusty sidekick. Unbeknownst to Captain, his own pets are clamoring for the job (and for more quality time with their beloved owner). Fluffy, his hamster, has yet to discover his superpower, but this rodent has a lot of heart. Manny the cat (who has the ability to electrocute bad guys) had run away after his beloved toy Nummers went missing, but the prodigal cat returns just in time to help the Captain. Roscoe (a.k.a. Metal Mutt) has a gruff exterior but is fiercely loyal. Shifty, the newest addition to the family, is a color-changing chameleon who adds a dose of comic relief. The lovable menagerie of crime-fighting pets offers lots of laughs and a boisterous and exuberant storyline; Santat’s illustrations are clear, engaging and neatly stacked into easy-to-read panels. While there is no mention of a sequel, subsequent volumes would certainly fly off the shelf faster than a speeding bullet, so here's hoping.

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-439-29811-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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A delightful protagonist, interesting fowl of various breeds and a cast of appealing second-string characters make this a...

UNUSUAL CHICKENS FOR THE EXCEPTIONAL POULTRY FARMER

Moving to the farm her family inherited from Great-Uncle Jim, Sophie Brown, 12, discovers a flyer from a local poultry purveyor promoting its “unusual chickens” and quickly discovers it’s not false advertising.

Sophie’s story unfolds through her correspondence with the poultry people and her letters to Great-Uncle Jim and her beloved abuelita (both deceased but very much alive to Sophie). While Dad’s white, brown-skinned, U.S.-born Sophie and her freelance-writer mother are frequently assumed to be migrant farmworkers, legal or otherwise, but they take it in stride. (The town of Gravenstein’s fairly diverse, but some residents need remedial multicultural ed.) The chickens Sophie acquires are plenty diverse themselves, from Henrietta, who lays glass eggs, to Chameleon, with her nifty gift for turning invisible when predators are near. The chickens’ superpowers aren’t a secret. Most who are in the know are trustworthy with one big exception: a wannabe poultry thief. Genuinely informative, entertaining chicken-raising tips are offered (and may prompt readers to lobby parents for chickens of their own). Matching the text in tone and substance, the illustrations honor the tale’s serious chicken-raising elements, portraying breeds in anatomically correct detail, while perfectly capturing that intense, slightly demented demeanor chickens, unusual and otherwise, are known for.

A delightful protagonist, interesting fowl of various breeds and a cast of appealing second-string characters make this a top pick for young readers, poultry fanciers or not . (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75552-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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