The stereotyping is a definite gaffe, but the illustrations convey an intensity of feeling in keeping with the profound way...

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THE WOLVES OF CURRUMPAW

The winner of the 2015 Kate Greenaway Medal offers an atmospheric retelling of a 19th-century tale that helped to spark the wildlife conservation movement in this country.

Recast in simpler, less melodramatic prose from Ernest Thompson Seton’s 1898 reminiscence of a wolf hunt in New Mexico, the narrative pits Seton, an experienced hunter, against Old Lobo—a huge and canny pack leader with a legendary ability to detect human-laid poison and traps. Using colored pencils on rough, oversized pages for impressionistic effects, Grill intersperses scenes of broad cityscapes or distant wolves loping sinuously across wide-open desert landscapes with arrays of unbordered vignettes. His depiction of generic Native Americans clad uniformly in fringed buckskins and feathered headdresses in a sequence depicting the advance of white settlers is, to say the least, simplistic, but even in miniature the wolves throughout radiate a compellingly feral nobility. The end comes at last when, following the trapping of Old Lobo’s mate, he himself is captured and dies after a night in captivity. The original story stops there; here it carries on to note that the encounter led Seton to become an advocate for wilderness and wildlife, followed by others who have worked to preserve gray wolf populations.

The stereotyping is a definite gaffe, but the illustrations convey an intensity of feeling in keeping with the profound way the experience changed at least one man’s life. (resource lists) (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1909263-83-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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