Unbelievable, improbable, and illogical—but quite delightful.

THE POPPER PENGUIN RESCUE

Joel, Nina, and their mother, Mrs. Popper, are distantly related to the family whose penguins made the town of Stillwater famous years ago.

In nearby Hillport, Mrs. Popper has purchased an abandoned house that had once been a penguin petting zoo. While exploring their new home, the children discover two intact penguin eggs in the basement. They care for the eggs surreptitiously, without telling Mom. Once the eggs hatch, the baby penguins, now named Ernest and Mae, are mischievous and clever, and the secret is soon out. The family decides to bring Ernest and Mae to join the original group of penguins that was relocated to Popper Island in the Arctic—never mind that penguins’ habitat is the Antarctic. They travel by boat, with Yuka, an Inuit doctoral student in zoology, as their guide and leader. Journey highlights include a penguin-caused glitch in the boat’s computer systems, a vicious Arctic storm, and lively interactions with the island-based penguins. Due to a puffin problem they decide to haul all the penguins to Antarctica, their rightful habitat. Schrefer clearly greatly admires the beloved, more-than–80-year-old classic, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, keeping readers informed by referring to its characters and events while adding a modern, eco-friendly viewpoint and lots of fun and laughs. Joel and Nina are sweet, resourceful, and wonderfully kind, as are Mom and Yuka. (Illustrations not seen.)

Unbelievable, improbable, and illogical—but quite delightful. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49542-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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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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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

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THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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