As wonderful as Important Rock Work.

EGG MARKS THE SPOT

From the Skunk and Badger series , Vol. 2

Odd-couple pals Skunk and Badger return.

When a former neighbor threatens to resume his weekly theft of Skunk’s New Yak Times Book Review, Skunk convinces Badger to undertake a rock-finding expedition in order to assuage the pain of a Book Review–less Sunday. “You cannot leave a hole at the beginning of your Wall of Rocks,” observes Skunk. Indeed, Badger’s Wall of Rocks—organized alphabetically—does not have the letter A rock. Blame it on Badger’s treasure-hunting cousin, Fisher, who stole Badger’s Spider Eye Agate long ago. The trip begins well enough: a walk alongside Endless Lake and into the woods where a waterfall fits the bill for Important Rock Work. “X MARKS THE SPOT!” yells Skunk. Then Fisher shows up, mocking Badger’s Important Rock Scientist research. When Skunk and Badger learn of a cave with a dinosaur egg embedded in a wall of amber, the duo must thwart Fisher’s attempts to steal the egg from its chicken protectors. Leaning heavily on its delightfully whimsical qualities, Book 2 of Timberlake and Klassen’s endearing series also boasts a whole lot of heart, perhaps even more so than its predecessor. Even as its often fantastical premise careens over the edge (and thrillingly so), the series’ titular duo keep it grounded thanks to Timberlake’s clear admiration for these characters and their quirks. Klassen’s artwork, meanwhile, continues to awe with its wistfulness.

As wonderful as Important Rock Work. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64375-006-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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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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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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