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

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 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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From the One and Only series , Vol. 4

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series.

Beloved gorilla Ivan becomes a father to rambunctious twins in this finale to a quartet that began with 2012’s Newbery Award–winning The One and Only Ivan.

Life hasn’t always been easy for silverback gorilla Ivan, who’s spent most of his life being mistreated in captivity. Now he’s living in a wildlife sanctuary, but he still gets to see his two best friends. Young elephant Ruby lives in the grassy habitat next door, and former stray dog Bob has a home with one of the zookeepers. All three were rescued from the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan’s expanded world includes fellow gorilla Kinyani—the two are about to become parents, and Ivan is revisiting the traumas of his past in light of what he wants the twins to know. When the subject inevitably comes up, Applegate’s trust and respect for readers is evident. She doesn’t shy away from hard truths as Ivan wrestles with the fact that poachers killed his family. Readers will need the context provided by knowledge of the earlier books to feel the full emotional impact of this story. The rushed ending unfortunately falls flat, detracting from the central message that a complex life can still contain hope. Final art not seen.

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series. (gorilla games, glossary, author’s note) (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063221123

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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