An expertly crafted story recognizing the power of humanity amid the life-altering tragedy of war.


A vibrant, artistic town is changed forever.

Danko (a light bulb), Fabian (a pink balloon dog), and Zirka (an origami bird) love their idyllic town of Rondo, famous for its singing flowers. The friends are happy until the terrifying and faceless War arrives and plants seeds of fear that grow into black flowers and prickly weeds, blocking out the light and silencing the wonderful singing flowers. The trio fails to reason with War and fights back with violence. At last, they galvanize the townspeople to work together to build a “huge light machine” that defeats the darkness of War. Rondo is rebuilt, but every person has been changed, scarred, injured, and red poppies spring up in places touched by War. Translated from the original Ukrainian, this allegorical picture book was originally published following the 2013-14 conflicts in Ukraine. Avoiding references to cultural or geographical markers, the universal story deftly highlights the importance of each person doing their part to battle darkness. The descriptive, lyrical text realistically depicts the impacts of war, and the visual juxtaposition of an imaginative, bright, colorful world and its war-ravaged aftermath is stark. Collage elements convey fragility and resilience in surprising yet visceral ways. Most characters are bipedal, and the three protagonists use gendered pronouns. Externally, characters are depicted in a variety of nonhuman colors (patterned, blue, green, bright white, pink). (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An expertly crafted story recognizing the power of humanity amid the life-altering tragedy of war. (Picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59270-367-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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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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