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Fun and fast moving; a bright, vibrant adventure.

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In this debut middle-grade novel, a girl and her talking cat must figure out why all the color has disappeared from the world.

Caitlin Maggert wakes up one day to find all the color has vanished. Her bedroom walls have turned from pink to gray. The brilliant yellow school bus is gray. Everything is gray. Caitlin’s mom doesn’t notice the change. When Caitlin brings it up with her friends—bespectacled Chinese adoptee Trudie and Tennessean Molly—it leads to a calamitous fight. Caitlin has a miserable day at school, but thankfully she isn’t totally alone in seeing the world in its new, colorless light. Her observations are confirmed by her ragdoll cat, Rio, who has started talking. Rio, in fact, has developed several extraordinary abilities, including telekinesis and suggestive mind control over feline lovers. These will come in handy when he joins Caitlin, Trudie, and Molly (now reconciled) in following a drip trail of yellow dots, tracking the missing colors to an abandoned building beyond the local dog park. What dire experiments are being conducted within? Can Rio, Caitlin, and friends thwart the schemes of the villainous MacDougal and return color to the world? In this series opener, Alexander writes in the third person, past tense, from Caitlin’s perspective or Rio’s. The prose is simple but lively, featuring plenty of short sentences to pull young readers along. The dialogue reflects the natural exuberance of schoolgirls on a quest. Caitlin is a likable protagonist—excitable and impatient but generally upbeat, choosing real friends rather than trying to be popular. Rio remains delightfully catlike in his talking form and is a fan favorite in the making. As is common in middle-grade works (and life), many of the events depicted carry disproportionate weight. Quarrels rear up from nowhere and feel like the end of the world. Making up leads to nirvana. The minor characters are similarly unshaded, although the “worst boy ever” behavior by a student named Podge does hint at a developing nuance. The story skips along in an unreserved celebration of the imagination, offering little explanation for its fantastical premises but not really needing to. Readers will take the colorless world at face value and adopt Rio into their hearts.

Fun and fast moving; a bright, vibrant adventure.

Pub Date: June 11, 2022

ISBN: 979-8-98607-002-5

Page Count: 137

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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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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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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