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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A sympathetic, compelling introduction to wolves from the perspective of one wolf and his memorable journey.

A WOLF CALLED WANDER

Separated from his pack, Swift, a young wolf, embarks on a perilous search for a new home.

Swift’s mother impresses on him early that his “pack belongs to the mountains and the mountains belong to the pack.” His father teaches him to hunt elk, avoid skunks and porcupines, revere the life that gives them life, and “carry on” when their pack is devastated in an attack by enemy wolves. Alone and grieving, Swift reluctantly leaves his mountain home. Crossing into unfamiliar territory, he’s injured and nearly dies, but the need to run, hunt, and live drives him on. Following a routine of “walk-trot-eat-rest,” Swift traverses prairies, canyons, and deserts, encountering men with rifles, hunger, thirst, highways, wild horses, a cougar, and a forest fire. Never imagining the “world could be so big or that I could be so alone in it,” Swift renames himself Wander as he reaches new mountains and finds a new home. Rife with details of the myriad scents, sounds, tastes, touches, and sights in Swift/Wander’s primal existence, the immediacy of his intimate, first-person, present-tense narration proves deeply moving, especially his longing for companionship. Realistic black-and-white illustrations trace key events in this unique survival story, and extensive backmatter fills in further factual information about wolves and their habitat.

A sympathetic, compelling introduction to wolves from the perspective of one wolf and his memorable journey. (additional resources, map) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-289593-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.

THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES

Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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