Warmhearted and utterly charming.

CRESS WATERCRESS

A young bunny copes with the death of her father and the move to a new home.

Mama moves her children, Cress and baby brother Kip, one spring evening as the moon is in the sky. Their new home is in a dead, hollow oak tree called the Broken Arms; its ramshackle state reminds Cress of the Watercress family’s loss. Natural dangers, including, most saliently, a snake nicknamed the Final Drainpipe and Monsieur Reynard the fox, feel more immediate here. As they settle in, there’s a perfect seasoning of domesticity, adventure, and contained peril, as on the day Cress and Finian, from a neighboring squirrel family, are swept over a waterfall on a raft. Cress confronts—and charms—Tunk the Honeybear with aplomb, but then she and Finny are briefly held captive by an arrogant, pretentious skunk. Maguire’s narrative offers wry puns, rich vocabulary, and entertaining dialogue, and Litchfield’s glowing, slightly stylized, full-color illustrations present an enchanting, magical peek into this woodland world. Cress’ personality is nicely realized as a child on the cusp of growing up as she deals with sorrow, crankily takes responsibility for Kip, and argues with her mother (who, like Little Women’s Marmee, puts her own anger in check to step up for her children). The anthropomorphized world feels true to itself and to the animal natures inhabiting it.

Warmhearted and utterly charming. (Animal fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1100-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

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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Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is...

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CRENSHAW

Applegate tackles homelessness in her first novel since 2013 Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan.

Hunger is a constant for soon-to-be fifth-grader Jackson and his family, and the accompanying dizziness may be why his imaginary friend is back. A giant cat named Crenshaw first appeared after Jackson finished first grade, when his parents moved the family into their minivan for several months. Now they’re facing eviction again, and Jackson’s afraid that he won’t be going to school next year with his friend Marisol. When Crenshaw shows up on a surfboard, Jackson, an aspiring scientist who likes facts, wonders whether Crenshaw is real or a figment of his imagination. Jackson’s first-person narrative moves from the present day, when he wishes that his parents understood that he’s old enough to hear the truth about the family’s finances, to the first time they were homeless and back to the present. The structure allows readers access to the slow buildup of Jackson’s panic and his need for a friend and stability in his life. Crenshaw tells Jackson that “Imaginary friends don’t come of their own volition. We are invited. We stay as long as we’re needed.” The cat’s voice, with its adult tone, is the conduit for the novel’s lessons: “You need to tell the truth, my friend….To the person who matters most of all.”

Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is nevertheless a somberly affecting one . (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04323-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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