For the curious, the listeners, the adventurers, the caregivers, the young, and the old.

ONCE UPON A CAMEL

How does one entertain two baby kestrels in the middle of a West Texas dust storm? With camel stories, of course.

Like her namesake Scheherazade, elderly camel Zada has many stories to tell from her adventurous life. It’s 1910, and she has charge of Wims and Beulah, two baby kestrels whose parents have vanished in a vicious dust storm. The threesome shelter in an empty mountain lion’s cave, waiting for safety. Zada hopes to get the chicks to the safe meeting place chosen by their parents just before a dust devil snatched them away. The evocative language is spellbinding as tales from Zada’s life calm the baby birds—and capture the interest of readers as well. The fledglings learn that Zada was raised by a Turkish pasha and gifted with eight other prized racing camels to the U.S. Army in 1856, ending up in Texas (events inspired by actual history). A delight to the senses, Zada’s stories are a descriptive wonder, featuring roiling dust, howling winds, fresh figs, and cool water, bolstering the emotions shown in Rohmann’s grayscale oil paintings. Readers will revel in both the vivid stories of Zada’s past and the rich vocabulary of Texas desert life. Appelt’s voice and pacing demonstrate her fine storytelling skills. Hearts will grow fond of this wise old camel; she is a bright star.

For the curious, the listeners, the adventurers, the caregivers, the young, and the old. (glossary, author’s note, sources) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0643-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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