Laugh-out-loud fun with a wonderful cast of characters. A winner in every way.

THE RHINO IN RIGHT FIELD

Tank is a 2,580-pound rhinoceros living in the city zoo.

Unfortunately, his domicile is just on the other side of the right-field fence at the park where 12-year-old Nick Spirakis and his friends play their own variation of baseball. When Nick misses a ball that his nemesis, Pete, drives into Tank’s territory, Nick jumps in, grabs the ball, and makes it out just in time to avoid Tank’s charge. Nick narrates the tale, set in 1948 in a Midwestern city patterned after Milwaukee, describing his friends and activities as if he is in direct conversation with readers. Every Saturday is spent working in his father’s shop, wishing he could be playing ball instead. His father, a Greek immigrant, prizes hard work and ambition and is determined that Nick will own the shop someday. Everything changes when the new owner of the city’s minor league baseball team shakes everything up. There are promotions to lure everyone into the ballpark. Nick and his pals join a batboy-for-a-day contest that takes place on Saturdays, causing him to invent some rather convoluted lies to explain his absences from the shop. Themes (rivalries, family dynamics, feminism) and historical details (radio announcers, frozen custard) combine with lots of mishaps and misadventures, including another very public encounter with Tank. The story assumes a white default.

Laugh-out-loud fun with a wonderful cast of characters. A winner in every way.   (acknowledgments, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0626-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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