For budding race-car enthusiasts and readers who’ve ever felt they learn differently.

REVVER THE SPEEDWAY SQUIRREL

A squirrel car-racing fan becomes part of a pit crew.

Growing up in a tree overlooking a racetrack, a young squirrel has become fascinated with the speeding cars and the sound of their engines. Although aptly named Revver, he has trouble paying attention when his mother tries to convey the critical skills that he, his sister, and two brothers will need to know when they leave their nest. As he questions his talents within the traditional learning environment, his engineering and speed experiments in this opening section of the novel help keep the episodic chapters quick and lively. When the siblings scatter in different directions on their 50th day of life, Revver heads to the racetrack. After Bill, one of the crew mechanics, realizes that the observant squirrel in his garage can understand him, he teaches Revver different parts of the car and how they work in short passages with plenty of details. Finally the squirrel thrives, realizing his true gifts and even joining the pit crew, and he puts his skills to the test when his sister’s life and a race-day repair are on the line. Expressive illustrations, near disasters, and gags with Revver’s brother Farty (also aptly named) sustain the light adventure. While Revver’s mother and sister assume stereotypical gender roles, the pit crew includes multiple women mechanics. Humans seem to be default white.

For budding race-car enthusiasts and readers who’ve ever felt they learn differently. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0361-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders.

TIGER BOY

When a Bengali boy finds and saves a tiger cub from a man who wants to sell her on the black market, he realizes that the schoolwork he resents could lead to a career protecting his beloved Sunderbans island home.

When the not-yet-weaned cub escapes from a nearby reserve, Neel and many of his neighbors join the search. But some are in the pay of greedy Gupta, a shady entrepreneur who’s recently settled in their community. Even Neel’s father is tempted by Gupta’s money, although he knows that Gupta doesn’t plan to take the cub back to the refuge. Neel and his sister use the boy’s extensive knowledge of the island’s swampy interior to find the cub’s hiding place and lure it out so it can be returned to its mother. The Kolkota-born author visited the remote Sunderbans in the course of her research. She lovingly depicts this beautiful tropical forest in the context of Neel’s efforts to find the cub and his reluctance to leave his familiar world. While the conflicts resolve a bit too easily, the sense of place is strong and the tiger cub’s rescue very satisfying. Pastel illustrations will help readers envision the story.

A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders. (author's note, organizations, glossary) (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-660-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

A WHALE OF THE WILD

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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