Practical, topical science in the field for middle-grade and middle school readers.

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BIRDS VS. BLADES?

OFFSHORE WIND POWER AND THE RACE TO PROTECT SEABIRDS

Scientists study seabirds to see how they might be affected by wind farms and to suggest appropriate placement for turbines to generate that nonpolluting, renewable energy.

Up and down the mid-Atlantic coast from Rhode Island to Virginia, politicians and engineers are looking for places to construct offshore wind farms, similar to those already providing clean energy around the country. Hirsch’s timely text explains this energy source, touches on why we need wind farms and how they work, and describes a four-year scientific study of gannets, scoters, and red-throated loons. She focuses particularly on the gannets, graceful ocean divers whose movements were previously a mystery. In successive chapters, she introduces the problem, then describes two nighttime boat trips to capture, band, and fit some birds with transmitters, which will reveal their whereabouts for a year. She reports on the travels of one tagged male and on life in the gannet breeding colonies off the east coast of Canada. She concludes with a more nuanced explanation of the hazards facing gannets and other seabirds. Laced with well-captioned photographs, maps, and blocks of sidebar text, the pages are attractively designed. There’s lots of information here, but there’s also lively action, a sense of immediacy, and a recognition that there are still far more questions than answers.

Practical, topical science in the field for middle-grade and middle school readers. (author’s note, source notes, glossary, selected bibliography, further information, index) (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-9520-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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An almost-orphan and a rescue dog share lots of heart in a winsome coming-of-age story.

A HOME FOR GODDESSES AND DOGS

After her mother succumbs to heart disease, 13-year-old Lydia goes to live with her mother’s older sister, Aunt Brat, and her wife, Eileen, in their small Connecticut town.

Almost immediately the loving couple adopts a large rescue dog that becomes mostly Lydia’s responsibility. The unfortunate animal isn’t even housebroken, and Lydia’s most decidedly not a dog person, so caring for Guffer is challenging. So is trying to be cordial—but not too friendly—with her 12 eighth grade classmates. Previously home-schooled, Lydia’s not quite ready for the friend thing. Secrets, like who could have been responsible for maiming two baby goats or why Brat is secretly caring for them at a neighbor’s farm, complicate life. Background plotlines (an angry neighbor who hates Guffer, Lydia’s absent father, and the cause of Guffer’s anxieties) all gradually evolve. Similarly, Lydia slowly learns to cope with her grief, sometimes aided by spending time with “the goddesses”—artistic collages of strong women that she and her mother crafted. Gentle, fully fleshed characters (most seemingly white) are lovingly drawn in this long tale of healing, but the pacing is sometimes frustratingly slow. Although she’s clearly intelligent, Lydia’s first-person narrative often seems more like the voice of an adult than a young teen. In spite of these minor flaws, her poignant tale is engaging and uplifting.

An almost-orphan and a rescue dog share lots of heart in a winsome coming-of-age story. (Fiction.10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-279678-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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