Vintage Vernon humor and a cast so lovable it hurts.


From the Hamster Princess series , Vol. 6

The Hamster Princess takes on Little Red Riding Hood.

A small, sycophantic, adorable-voiced hamster girl wearing a bright red hood seeks out Princess Harriet for help, saying her grandmother is being terrorized by weasel-wolves. Although she is deeply repelled by the little hamster’s extreme cuteness, Harriet and her trusty companion, Wilbur, follow Red into the woods, where they find the weasel-wolves. They are acting suspiciously docile—but Red says to ignore them; it’s “the big one” who’s the problem. Their first encounter with the big one involves a badly spelled note and a drawing of Harriet with “little stink-lines,” but the second moonlit meeting is even stranger, as the big one is looking a lot more hamsterous and actually speaks (his name’s Grey). Grey explains that he was “born a weasel-wolf” but was “bitten by a hamster under the full moon,” making him a were-hamster. Probing reveals a shocking shared backstory between Grey and Harriet, and Wilbur’s hilariously ill at ease while Grey and Harriet bond. Grey’s looking for packs of weasel-wolves that have gone missing; it seems they vanish when Red and her grandmother enter an area. The jokes, both visual and textual, share space with the plot’s central conflict: Harriet must decide whom to trust—a hamster subject who annoys her or a hamster-eating monster she likes.

Vintage Vernon humor and a cast so lovable it hurts. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-18658-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 14

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner


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

Did you like this book?

Rich, naturalistic details will delight lovers of marine life.


A Monterey Bay sea otter comes of age.

Odder’s mom told her to stay away from sharks, humans, and anything else she didn’t understand, but after saving her friend Kairi from a shark attack, she encounters all three. Injured herself during the rescue, Odder ends up recuperating at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, or Highwater as the otters call it, where she once lived as a young orphaned pup. Last time, the humans helped her reintegrate into the wild, but because of her injuries this time the outcome might be different. Soon Kairi is there too, stricken with “the shaking sickness” and having lost her newborn pup. Now Kairi is fostering a new pup, and soon one is introduced to an initially reluctant Odder in hopes that she will help raise it so it can return to the wild. The free verse effortlessly weaves in scientific information, giving Odder a voice without overly anthropomorphizing any of the animals. The natural appeal of sea otters will draw readers in, but the book doesn’t shy away from real-world threats such as predators, disease, and pollution. Loosely based on the stories of real sea otters rehabilitated at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, this novel will give readers lots to talk about, but uneven pacing and a rushed ending may leave some unsatisfied. Charming black-and-white spot art captures the world and life of the sea.

Rich, naturalistic details will delight lovers of marine life. (glossary, author’s note, bibliography, resources) (Verse novel. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-14742-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet