From the Honest June series , Vol. 1

A novel with a valuable message about being true to yourself.

An 11-year-old people-pleaser gets a lesson in the importance of being honest and staying true to yourself.

June Jackson is excited about the freedom that sixth grade will bring: Sure, she’ll still have to play field hockey to make her dad happy and wear outfits she hates just to keep the peace with her mom, but at least she can use whatever gel pens she wants. June doesn’t mind telling little lies and suppressing her own desires so long as this keeps her looking like the perfect, put-together child in front of her parents and friends. The night of the annual school carnival, June is lured into a fun house where she meets Victoria, her fairy godmother, who enchants her with a spell that forces her to only tell the truth. June quickly tries to scheme her way out of what feels like a curse, but half-truths and omissions don’t do the trick. Channeling her frustrations through her private blog eventually helps June realize that using her voice could help relieve some of the overwhelming pressure she feels to excel. This optimistic first-person narrative may resonate with readers who struggle with perfectionism and asserting themselves. The brisk pace helps the aimless plot move along, but the story feels cut short by the abrupt ending. Charming illustrations throughout bring the predominantly Black cast to life.

A novel with a valuable message about being true to yourself. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-37829-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021


Certain to steal hearts.

In this follow-up to 2020’s The One and Only Bob, Ruby the elephant is still living at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary.

She’s apprehensive about her Tuskday, a rite of passage for young elephants when she’ll give a speech in front of the rest of the herd. Luckily, she can confide in her Uncle Ivan, who is next door in Gorilla World, and Uncle Bob, the dog who lives nearby with human friend Julia. Ruby was born in an unspecified part of Africa, later ending up on display in the mall, where she met Ivan, Bob, and Julia. The unexpected arrival of someone from Ruby’s past life on the savanna revives memories both warmly nostalgic and deeply traumatic. An elephant glossary and Castelao’s charming, illustrated guide to elephant body language help immerse readers in Ruby’s world. Goofy, playful, and mischievous Ruby is fully dimensional, as she has shown her bravery during the many hardships of her young life. Applegate deftly tempers themes of grief and loss with compassion and humor as Ruby finds her place in the herd. The author’s note touches on climate change, the illegal ivory trade, and conservation efforts, but the highly emotive framing of the story through the memories of a bewildered baby elephant emphasizes the impact of lines such as “ ‘in Africa,’ I say softly, ‘there were bad people,’ ” without offering readers a nuanced understanding of the broader context that drives poaching.

Certain to steal hearts. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780063080089

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023


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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