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MY BEST FRIEND IS EXTINCT

A good choice for lovers of animal and friendship stories.

In the middle of a blizzard, a young boy helps an injured prehistoric animal.

This is the story of 10-year-old Henry, who has moved with his mother—his father died when he was small—to a snowy mountain town where it has been hard to make friends. Making matters worse is a concussion he sustained when bullies collapsed a snow tunnel onto him. When Henry finds an injured prehistoric short-faced bear, he names him Yarp and, in secret, nurses him back to health. But what creature injured Yarp in the first place? Henry is determined to keep his new friend safe, but this proves to be a difficult challenge with no assistance from adults. There are two distinct modes for this title, which combines the simple reality of loneliness with the fantasy of befriending extinct animals. Fans of prehistoric animals will gobble up the exciting sections with saber-toothed cats, although the reason these creatures are milling about is not explained. A different rhythm is created around the story elements that address trying to make friends and telling lies, which gets Henry into trouble. Unfortunately, supporting characters are less well developed than the lead, but, ultimately, the story comes to a dramatic and tidy end. Soft pen-and-ink illustrations throughout add charm to the story.

A good choice for lovers of animal and friendship stories. (map) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2442-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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THE ONE AND ONLY FAMILY

From the One and Only series , Vol. 4

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series.

Beloved gorilla Ivan becomes a father to rambunctious twins in this finale to a quartet that began with 2012’s Newbery Award–winning The One and Only Ivan.

Life hasn’t always been easy for silverback gorilla Ivan, who’s spent most of his life being mistreated in captivity. Now he’s living in a wildlife sanctuary, but he still gets to see his two best friends. Young elephant Ruby lives in the grassy habitat next door, and former stray dog Bob has a home with one of the zookeepers. All three were rescued from the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan’s expanded world includes fellow gorilla Kinyani—the two are about to become parents, and Ivan is revisiting the traumas of his past in light of what he wants the twins to know. When the subject inevitably comes up, Applegate’s trust and respect for readers is evident. She doesn’t shy away from hard truths as Ivan wrestles with the fact that poachers killed his family. Readers will need the context provided by knowledge of the earlier books to feel the full emotional impact of this story. The rushed ending unfortunately falls flat, detracting from the central message that a complex life can still contain hope. Final art not seen.

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series. (gorilla games, glossary, author’s note) (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063221123

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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THE WILD ROBOT PROTECTS

From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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