Engrossing and engaging—a fabulous hero’s quest.

BRAVER

A WOMBAT'S TALE

A young wombat faces danger and uncertainty in this anthropomorphic animal fantasy.

Lola, a wombat joey, lives in the Northern Forest with her wombat parents. But unlike other wombats, Lola loves to talk and is not content with the quiet, stable life of foraging during the night and sleeping during the day. One day, sneaking out of her burrow home to explore, she encounters a messenger-platypus who delivers to her a secret message—but Lola has no idea what it means. Heading back to the burrow, Lola is horrified to discover that Tassie devils have rounded up all the wombats and are carrying them off in a large cage. Lola sees her parents through the bars, and her mother tells her to “Find your uncle!” before they are taken away. As Lola sets off for the royal city of Dore to look for her uncle, she befriends Melvin, a fastidious rat, and Blue, a baby penguin—sterling secondary characters whose quirky personalities add lively originality and exquisite freshness to the story. In the best hero’s-journey way, Lola confronts her fears and learns her strengths. The richly imagined, tightly woven, and deliciously nuanced plot is inhabited by animals that live in the real world of Tasmania, and readers will also discover echidnas, pygmy possums, and swamp water rats as they go.

Engrossing and engaging—a fabulous hero’s quest. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21991-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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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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