Animal husbandry done right for the young reader set.


From the Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet series , Vol. 2

It’s not every chapter book that features a girl elbow-deep in a sheep’s birthing canal, but Callie Vee’s no ordinary gal.

Although she’s continuing her award-winning middle-grade series (The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, 2009, etc.) with an early chapter-book one, Kelly presents Calpurnia Tate as the same girl with the same problems. Her mother wants her to be a lady when all she wants is to become a naturalist. The year is 1901 (the year after the action of The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, 2015), and there are other problems besides gender expectations. While studying a Vanessa cardui, or painted lady, Callie discovers a torn wing and must determine if she’s the kind of girl who tries to fix broken butterflies. (Bafflingly, despite the prominence of painted ladies in the story, the butterflies depicted on the cover are monarchs.) Later Callie’s mother’s prized sheep is due to give birth. When complications arise, it’s up to our heroine to save the day using ingenuity and know-how. Callie’s adventures in animal care adapt easily to this format, losing none of the protagonist’s wit and 13-year-old wisdom, though whether older readers will follow her adventures in a younger reading format is open to question. Certainly children without prior knowledge of the older novels will find much to love in Callie’s fight against early-20th-century mores and attitudes, but 13 is an odd age for a chapter-book protagonist.

Animal husbandry done right for the young reader set. (Historical fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-870-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.


From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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