“One Small Step for a Mouse” indeed.

ARMSTRONG

THE ADVENTUROUS JOURNEY OF A MOUSE TO THE MOON

A furry genius with eyes on the skies goes where no one has gone before.

Golden-toned, lavishly detailed views of a mid-1950s world from a city mouse’s eye level enrich a soaring tale of astronautic achievement. Inspired by a visit to that hidden wing of the Smithsonian where flying machines built by rodent aviators of the past are exhibited, a mouse resolves to bring back proof of his theory that the moon is made of stone (the other mice, understandably, find the notion that it’s made of cheese more compelling). Persevering through multiple false starts and setbacks, including a disastrous fire caused by an experimental roller-skate rocket, he constructs at last an oddly familiar-looking multistage craft that carries him into space and on to a lunar landing. Clad in a space suit with an ink-bottle helmet, he ventures out to gather a souvenir rock and plant a tiny flag, then returns in triumph to be acclaimed by his peers. The illustrations are visually immersive for their wealth of precisely rendered period items and architecture, also adding side business both humorous and dramatic to the epic venture. Positing that some of the mouse’s diminutive but exact design drawings later fell into human hands and inspired the Apollo program, Kuhlmann (Moletown, 2015) closes with a short history of our own early space travel featuring photorealistic portraits of that other Armstrong and like (supposed) pioneers.

“One Small Step for a Mouse” indeed. (Illustrated fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4262-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

A WHALE OF THE WILD

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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