MANATEE'S BEST FRIEND

The struggle to face one’s fears and stand up for one’s values creates a compelling story.

A Florida girl with crippling shyness must find her voice.

Becca Wong Walker is assigned to work with two other students on a sixth grade science project. She dreads both the expected presentation and working with others: Their group seems so awkward, as it includes extremely shy bookworm Becca; Amelia Carlson, the talkative and confident new girl; and the class’s funny kid, Deion Williams. But bringing them together is their interest in Missy, the manatee who comes to Becca’s dock. To Becca, Missy has been her only friend for a long time—someone she can actually speak to without freezing up or feeling weird and alone. And now Missy has a new calf who is in great danger due to the speedboats and jet skis that run into these gentle creatures. Liu has created an inspiring story with excellent pacing centered on a budding activist finding her voice. Although the three main characters start out as common types, their project changes them. Navigating the dangerous environment of new friendships, Becca’s dread and fear express her palpable social anxiety on top of her worry for the manatees. Will she be strong enough to speak up to her classmates, the town council, and even her own father? Becca’s mother’s side of the family is cued as Chinese; other characters are minimally described.

The struggle to face one’s fears and stand up for one’s values creates a compelling story. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-66226-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

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

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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