Small of stature but brimming with brains, the trickster rabbit Lapin gets in and out of trouble faster than a Louisiana governor. Doucet (Why Lapin’s Ears Are Too Long, 1997, etc.) is known for her meticulous researching of these stories in her adopted homeland in Cajun Country, and her retelling leaves nothing to be desired. She respects the tenor and tone of the real Cajun culture. They are as full of mischievous fun and as spicy as a crawfish boil at a Fais-Do-Do. The three stories included are real Cajun derivatives of the original West African stories. They involve the rivalry between Compère Lapin and the somewhat shortsighted Compère Bouki. The bigger Bouki, it seems, comes out on the short end every time, as lazy Lapin cons him for half his crops and most of his rum cake, his mule and wagon, and the water from his well. Bouki almost turns the tables in the variation of the classic tar baby story, but Lapin returns to his roots—or rather briars—to win in the end. Southern prodigal son Cook’s illustrations cast the right shade, or rather lack of it. His energetic illustrations use a steamy bright golden cast, which suggests the summer in Cajun country better than a bite of capsicum. The text and many paintings are blended throughout the brilliant design, accentuating the non-stop banter between the furry antagonists. This seamless blending of ambiance and language play makes it a must-have for storytellers and storylovers alike, and leaves us wondering what kind of conversations she is having with Lapin as he lollygags on her writing desk. (glossary) (Folklore. 6-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2002

ISBN: 0-374-34328-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner


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

Did you like this book?

A sympathetic, compelling introduction to wolves from the perspective of one wolf and his memorable journey.


Separated from his pack, Swift, a young wolf, embarks on a perilous search for a new home.

Swift’s mother impresses on him early that his “pack belongs to the mountains and the mountains belong to the pack.” His father teaches him to hunt elk, avoid skunks and porcupines, revere the life that gives them life, and “carry on” when their pack is devastated in an attack by enemy wolves. Alone and grieving, Swift reluctantly leaves his mountain home. Crossing into unfamiliar territory, he’s injured and nearly dies, but the need to run, hunt, and live drives him on. Following a routine of “walk-trot-eat-rest,” Swift traverses prairies, canyons, and deserts, encountering men with rifles, hunger, thirst, highways, wild horses, a cougar, and a forest fire. Never imagining the “world could be so big or that I could be so alone in it,” Swift renames himself Wander as he reaches new mountains and finds a new home. Rife with details of the myriad scents, sounds, tastes, touches, and sights in Swift/Wander’s primal existence, the immediacy of his intimate, first-person, present-tense narration proves deeply moving, especially his longing for companionship. Realistic black-and-white illustrations trace key events in this unique survival story, and extensive backmatter fills in further factual information about wolves and their habitat.

A sympathetic, compelling introduction to wolves from the perspective of one wolf and his memorable journey. (additional resources, map) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-289593-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

Did you like this book?