A high energy follow-up proving silly can still be smart.

ASTRONUTS MISSION TWO

THE WATER PLANET

From the AstroNuts series , Vol. 2

The lovable aerospace animal assemblage returns in search of another hospitable planet for Earth’s inhabitants.

After striking out in their first mission (AstroNuts Mission One: The Plant Planet, 2019), the four agents of NNASA—LaserShark, StinkBug, SmartHawk, and AlphaWolf—are back to investigate another potential planet for Earth’s residents, this time with modifications that give each one a special power. Their ship, built from Thomas Jefferson’s nose from Mount Rushmore, rockets them to the Water Planet, where they meet its president, P.T. Clam. Brimming with hyperbole and effusive praise, P.T. bombastically extols his home planet and offers the AstroNuts to swap the Water Planet for Earth, promising to filter Earth’s polluted waters. Noticing the others’ reticence, P.T. quietly offers Mission Leader AlphaWolf a side deal appealing to his vanity. But soon, another clam named Susan B. Clamthony approaches LaserShark and sheds some light on P.T.’s true scheme. Narrated by Earth, this sophomore volume continues with all the same punchy puns and visual panache as its predecessor. Scieszka skillfully weaves in facts about climate change and environmental and social commentary into his jet-propelled zaniness, bringing a subtle undercurrent of relevance into a seemingly goofy tale. With its now-familiar collages utilizing a dazzling psychedelic array of color, the series will delight fans, although this volume is a fine jumping-in point for new readers as well.

A high energy follow-up proving silly can still be smart. (Graphic science fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7120-3

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

  • National Book Award Winner

  • Newbery Honor Book

BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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