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

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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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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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