From the commanding cover illustration to the playful image on the back, simply spectacular.

PARROTS OVER PUERTO RICO

An ambitious project: The text on each vibrant, double-page collage, arranged vertically, intersperses the near-extinction and slow comeback of the Puerto Rican parrot with over 2,000 years of human history.

“Above the treetops of Puerto Rico flies a flock of parrots as green as their island home….[T]hey nearly vanished from the earth forever. This is their story.” From this dramatic beginning onward, both artwork and text encourage slow absorption of each spread before the turn of the page. Various peoples—from unnamed aboriginals to Taínos, Europeans, Africans and eventually North Americans—brought with them new flora, fauna and habits, all contributing to the demise of the native birds. Finally, in 1968, two governments began the work that continues today to restore the wild flocks. There are fascinating details about a 1539 fortress wall, leather jackets worn by parrots during hawk-avoidance training and materials used to mend an injured wing. The onomatopoeic derivation of the parrots’ Taíno name, iguaca, is developed nicely in its repeated use as the parrots’ call. By turns poetic and scientific, the text offers a wealth of information. Every paper-and-fabric collage is frame-worthy, from depictions of waterfalls and rain forest to sailing ships, hazards and, of course, parrots.

From the commanding cover illustration to the playful image on the back, simply spectacular. (afterword, photos, chronology, sources) (Informational picture book. 8-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62014-004-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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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 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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