A slight and predictable story that will likely find most appeal with serious dog (or bunny) lovers.

READ REVIEW

FENWAY AND HATTIE AND THE EVIL BUNNY GANG

From the Fenway and Hattie series , Vol. 2

There’s a single conceit to this series: Fenway, the exuberant Jack Russell terrier who relates the tale, understands people—but in a charming and, well, doggy way.

That’s not much to sustain the narrative for middle-grade audiences, since characterizations are simplistically filtered through Fenway’s canine mind. In this second in the series, Fenway’s girl, Hattie, is caring for a pet rabbit. Fenway regards Evil Bunny as he does the wild backyard rabbits: it’s a dangerous threat. He’s also painfully jealous, as Hattie finds the rabbit all too cute. Fenway doesn’t observe the racial characteristics of people but sort of understands the language of his family, including Hattie’s parents, Fetch Man and Food Lady, the latter of whom is given to saying things like “Weul see” and “Wah-chim.” There are scattered subtle hints of other issues. Hattie feels torn between super-girlie friend Zahra and baseball-focused Angel, but Fenway is oblivious to the strained relationship between neighboring dogs Patches, a newcomer, and Goldie, a jealous first pet. Hattie lets Zahra take the blame for the tear Fenway makes in Angel’s baseball jacket, although later she owns up. In a lively scene, Fenway wrecks the house while chasing the rabbit right out the door. Only later does he bravely rescue the bunny to restore Hattie’s (and his own) happiness.

A slight and predictable story that will likely find most appeal with serious dog (or bunny) lovers. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-99633-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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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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THE MYSTERIOUS WOODS OF WHISTLE ROOT

A strange, whimsical debut that may never quite convince readers why they should care about it.

Carly Bean Bitters is a likable 11-year-old with a strange malady: She is awake at night and sleeps during the day. This allows her to notice a strange phenomenon—a squash that appears on her roof. Carly soon meets Lewis, a musician and a rat, who explains that the squash is a member of his band, taking the place of a rat who has been abducted by owls. When Lewis introduces Carly to the other members of his rat community in the Whistle Root woods, she learns that the owls’ current behavior is abnormal—they used to dance to the rats’ moonlight tunes before they suddenly began snatching them. Thus begins a bizarre journey for Carly, who must discover the reason behind the owls’ sudden change of heart and other strange occurrences in the woods and her town. Though the back story behind the Whistle Root wood and various characters’ behavior is eventually explained, the explanations themselves are often disjointed and don’t quite add up. This feeling of arbitrariness makes it hard for readers to engage with the rats’ plight. While this quiet book achieves a timeless feel—being identifiably set neither in our world nor in another—this cannot atone for a history of the magical woods and creatures that sometimes feels nonsensical. (Fantasy. 8-10)

 

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-79263-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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