Both arachnophobes and arachnophiles will find useful debate fodder squashed within these pages.

I'M TRYING TO LOVE SPIDERS

What if “trying” not to hate spiders doesn’t quite cut it?

Barton’s Jekyll-Hyde treatise on the much-maligned Araneae features splat marks throughout in mute testimony of the narrator’s failure to come to terms with the positive attributes of her nemesis. The endpapers boast a colorful representation of these eight-legged phobia-targets, while the text offers accessible, classroom-friendly factoids. There is no name for the type used—because there is no type used. Wild, freehand lettering screams at readers in direct proportion to the escalating hysteria generated by spiders ambling across exclamation point–splattered pages. As the narrator shudders toward détente, (most) readers will gradually acquire a burgeoning respect for these industrious arthropods. After all, each spider on the planet (if not squished) can be responsible for eliminating over 75 pounds of bugs in a single year! They walk on ceilings thanks to their scopulae (look it up), and they are sneaky stealth masters. Spiders are “BUG NINJAS.” Barton’s wacky ink and digital artwork is simultaneously cringe-worthy and cackle-inducing—and very splattery.

Both arachnophobes and arachnophiles will find useful debate fodder squashed within these pages. (Picture book. 3-12)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01693-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

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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