A sometimes-funny animal tale with an appropriately feel-good ending, sure to please feline fanciers.

NUTZ!

A fat feline faces a depressing diet and the addition of a tail-less squirrel to his household. What’s a cat to do?

Amos, a former alley cat, knows he lives the good life. He has (or had) a boy, Tyler, who loves him, a diet previously overabundant with yummy chicken gizzards and very little responsibility. All he needs to do is to watch out for the big, bad next-door dog, Bruno, and to warn Tyler and his mom if the landlord, Stinky Feet, is on his way over to collect the overdue rent. After Bruno savages a baby squirrel, Nutz, and Tyler takes it in, the little tyke makes a noticeable change in the household. He scatters nuts everywhere, steals Amos’ toys and generally acts as a severe annoyance to a cat comfortably set in his ways. More compelling issues, such as whether Tyler and his mom can find the money for the rent and whether the landlord will discover the new pet squirrel, add a mild level of suspense to the cat’s first-person, appropriately self-focused narrative. After all, how many cats aren’t self-absorbed? Amusing, quirky pen-and-ink illustrations offer a cat’s-eye view of Amos’ life as he gradually develops a more empathetic understanding of the challenges the orphaned, disabled squirrel faces.

A sometimes-funny animal tale with an appropriately feel-good ending, sure to please feline fanciers. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-896580-87-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Tradewind Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

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

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

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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