Readers will have a ball with this hilarious, charming story.


From the Hamster Princess series , Vol. 5

Hamster princess Harriet is back in Vernon’s take on “Cinderella.”

Twelve-year-old Harriet has zero interest in marriage, especially when most princes she knows aren’t particularly pleasant, but her optimistic mother has other ideas; the queen thinks that a masked ball would liberate Harriet from her intimidating reputation. But it’s a reputation Harriet is proud of, and the queen’s idea of a masked ball sadly doesn’t allow for Harriet’s costume ideas, like Genghis Prawn, “unstoppable leader of the lobster horde.” Instead, the belle of the ball is a gorgeous, mysterious newcomer wearing glass shoes. While everyone else is enchanted, Harriet, concerned about how easy it was for an uninvited intruder to waltz right in, schemes to learn the mysterious hamster’s secret. She learns that Ella (or Whiskerella) is stuck attending balls until she’s swept off her feet by a prince. Ella finds the princes just as odious as Harriet does—and the shoes are painful—but her wishes are less important than the “happily ever after” that the fairy godmouse insists she have, as “Everry little girrrl drrreams of marrrying a prrrince!” The wild struggle to prevent the unwanted happily-ever-after includes razor-sharp takedowns of Cinderella tropes, stampeding quails, and a running gag about a lizard with bladder troubles. After all the silliness, it ends on a surprisingly beautiful note.

Readers will have a ball with this hilarious, charming story. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 7-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-18655-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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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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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Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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