JUST SO STORIES

VOLUME II

Wallace follows up his first volume of reillustrated Kipling pourquois tales (2013) with its companion.

Limpid mixed-media paintings depict Painted Jaguar lecturing the Stickly-Prickly Hedgehog (a tiny ball of spines), Tegumai the Neolithic man thigh-deep in the river lamenting his broken spear, and the Cat that walked by himself going deep into the Wet Wild Woods. Following the format of the earlier volume, one full-page painting opens each story, and then three more appear within, sometimes occupying a whole page and sometimes stretching across the tops of two and straddling the gutter. Appropriately for this illustrated book of stories, he focuses the cover on the pieces of birch bark from “How the First Letter Was Written” and “How the Alphabet Was Made,” held by Taffy Metallumai and her daddy; on the wraparound rear cover are Cat, Hedgehog and King Crab, all staring solemnly out at readers. Detailed illustrator’s notes explain Wallace’s approach, story by story, revealing connections among them and providing background information. He plants a smiling “wild thing” on Taffy’s Neolithic cave wall in homage to Sendak and uses pencil crayon, pastel pencil and chalk to “capture the scorching sun of a desert country” in another story. Glorious as the illustrations are, they complement rather than undercutting Kipling’s rolling lines: “But…when the moon gets up and night comes, he is the Cat that walks by himself, and all places are alike to him.”

A triumph . (Short stories. 5 & up)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55498-213-4

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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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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