A punny holiday-themed romp for any time of year.

THE FIRST CHRISTMAS SWEATER (AND THE SHEEP WHO CHANGED EVERYTHING)

An Irish sheep called Hillary plays a pivotal role in establishing a sartorial Christmas tradition.

Hillary is just a regular sheep…except for one thing: She has multicolored fleece! While the rest of the flock are content on the farm, Hillary dreams of life beyond Farmer Jimmy’s field. This life of pastoral idleness is turned upside down when Santa arrives, looking for the best wool for the “first-ever Christmas sweater.” Initially, he’s not impressed by all the plain white fleece, but then Farmer Jimmy introduces Santa (who looks like a cross between Jerry Garcia and a lumberjack) to Hillary, and the rest is history. Judge’s thick-lined black-and-white sketches add visual irony: Santa’s naughty list includes “Donald Lump” and “Pears Morgen,” and Mrs. Claus wears a tool belt and high-top sneakers. Varied facial expressions and shapely sheep hairdos distinguish Hillary’s ovine brethren and sistren from one another. Sheep puns galore liven up the text, from chapter titles such as “Ewe Wish!” to Hillary’s favorite action movie, Dye Hard, and rock band, the Bleatles. The conversational narration is peppered with sheep facts. Backmatter includes guffaw-inducing sheep jokes and a brief history of the real Christmas sweater. The illustrations present all characters, human and sheep—except Hillary, of course—as white.

A punny holiday-themed romp for any time of year. (Animal fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1132-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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