Lovers of animal fantasy drawn to the book will find themselves taking in some history they likely never would have thought...

THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF PUDDING TAT, ADVENTURING CAT

A cat with albinism traipses in and out of some of early-20th-century North America’s landmark moments.

From an Ontario farm, Pudding Tat makes his way to the bottom of Niagara Falls via barrel; to Buffalo via rail, where he attends the Pan-American Exposition; to New York City via motorcar, where he lives with the lyricist of “In My Merry Oldsmobile”; to the airship America as it attempts the first trans-Atlantic flight in history; to London via steamship before he heads back to North America on…the Titanic. This Forrest Gump of a cat is accompanied by an unnamed, irascible flea who acts as the cat’s guide, compensating for his vision impairment. The flea’s character arc from parasite to companion provides most of the book’s emotional verve, as Pudding, though he ostensibly seeks adventure, has less an adventurous spirit than an amiable one and seems happy to go where Adderson and the flea direct him. Characters are assumed white; even railroad porter Asa is not identified racially, thoroughly undercutting the poignancy of his insistence on being called by his name for readers who do not bring pre-existing knowledge of the history of the all-black corps of Pullman porters to the text (or read the concluding author’s note before they read the book).

Lovers of animal fantasy drawn to the book will find themselves taking in some history they likely never would have thought themselves interested in before. (Historical fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-55498-964-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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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