DOCTOR DE SOTO

In this captivating story of a mouse dentist, Steig sets his stage according to the ludicrous logic of size discrepancy that intrigues children: to treat large animals (such as the pig shown), Dr. De Sore stands on a ladder; and for extra-large animals (a donkey is pictured), he is hoisted up on a pulley contraption by his wife/assistant. Then he gets right into his patients' mouths, "wearing rubbers to keep his feet dry." Understandably, Dr. De Soto refuses to treat animals dangerous to mice—not even "the most timid-looking cat." But one day when a well-dressed fox comes pleading with him to ease his pain, the De Sotos relent. And as the dentist works inside the fox's mouth, the patient goes from a lip-smacking dream under gas ("How I love them raw, with just a pinch of salt, and a dry white wine"). . . to wondering, after the first visit, "if it would be shabby of him to eat the De Sotos when the job was done" . . . to "I really shouldn't eat them. On the other hand, how can I resist?". . . to "definitely" making up his mind to eat them. But the De Sores, though compassionate, are no fools, and so they outfox the fox—coating his teeth with a final preventive treatment that is really glue. And so, with his jaw stuck shut (for just a day or two, the dentist assures him), the defeated fox stumbles down the stairs—which Steig, as a parting reference to the arrangements set forth at the beginning, has divided into the regular flight the fox is using and a narrower one of smaller steps. Simple but sly, a mischievously imaginative rendition of the classic theme.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 1982

ISBN: 0606146067

Page Count: -

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1982

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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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A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.

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WONDER

After being home-schooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into middle school life when he looks so different from everyone else?

Auggie has had 27 surgeries to correct facial anomalies he was born with, but he still has a face that has earned him such cruel nicknames as Freak, Freddy Krueger, Gross-out and Lizard face. Though “his features look like they’ve been melted, like the drippings on a candle” and he’s used to people averting their eyes when they see him, he’s an engaging boy who feels pretty ordinary inside. He’s smart, funny, kind and brave, but his father says that having Auggie attend Beecher Prep would be like sending “a lamb to the slaughter.” Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too.

A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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