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THE COBRA'S SONG

An absorbing story that has music at its heart.

A story exploring family, friendship, and facing your fears.

Soon-to-be sixth grader Geetanjali has grown up in the shadow of her mother and grandmother, who were famous Hindustani classical singers back in India. But every time she has to sing publicly, she finds herself besieged with anxiety. And it all starts to snowball: Geetanjali’s meant to sing at a public event in her Michigan hometown alongside bestie Penn, a White American boy, but she doesn’t feel ready. She’s hoping Aaji’s visit from Pune will make her feel less anxious, but her grandmother doesn’t seem like herself. Nor does their neighbor, recently widowed Heena Mavshi, who is behaving most unusually. Could it have something to do with mysterious new arrival Lata Auntie, who keeps pestering Aaji to sing Raag Naagshakti, a melody said to attract cobras? What about the dead mouse in the backyard with bite marks like those of a snake’s fangs? The book digs into changing family dynamics, grief and healing, tween fears, and culture and belonging, among other topics. There’s also a mystery connected to snake-related curses and folk beliefs around naagmanis, stones supposedly formed by cobras. Readers might wish for deeper development of some of the many strands. However, the strong pace and the relationships between the vivid characters, both Geetanjali’s Marathi family members and others, come together to make this story immensely readable.

An absorbing story that has music at its heart. (Adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9781665911887

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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THE WILD ROBOT PROTECTS

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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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

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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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