Unbelievable, improbable, and illogical—but quite delightful.

THE POPPER PENGUIN RESCUE

Joel, Nina, and their mother, Mrs. Popper, are distantly related to the family whose penguins made the town of Stillwater famous years ago.

In nearby Hillport, Mrs. Popper has purchased an abandoned house that had once been a penguin petting zoo. While exploring their new home, the children discover two intact penguin eggs in the basement. They care for the eggs surreptitiously, without telling Mom. Once the eggs hatch, the baby penguins, now named Ernest and Mae, are mischievous and clever, and the secret is soon out. The family decides to bring Ernest and Mae to join the original group of penguins that was relocated to Popper Island in the Arctic—never mind that penguins’ habitat is the Antarctic. They travel by boat, with Yuka, an Inuit doctoral student in zoology, as their guide and leader. Journey highlights include a penguin-caused glitch in the boat’s computer systems, a vicious Arctic storm, and lively interactions with the island-based penguins. Due to a puffin problem they decide to haul all the penguins to Antarctica, their rightful habitat. Schrefer clearly greatly admires the beloved, more-than–80-year-old classic, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, keeping readers informed by referring to its characters and events while adding a modern, eco-friendly viewpoint and lots of fun and laughs. Joel and Nina are sweet, resourceful, and wonderfully kind, as are Mom and Yuka. (Illustrations not seen.)

Unbelievable, improbable, and illogical—but quite delightful. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49542-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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Both cozy and inspiring, this eco-fable conveys both grim truths and a defiant call to action.

THE SILVER ARROW

The best birthday present is a magical train full of talking animals—and a new job.

On Kate’s 11th birthday, she’s surprised by the arrival of rich Uncle Herbert. Uncle Herbert bears a gift: a train. Not a toy train, a 102.36-ton steam engine, with cars that come later. When Kate and her brother, Tom, both white, play in the cab of the Silver Arrow, the train starts up, zooming to a platform packed with animals holding tickets. Thus begins Kate and Tom’s hard work: They learn to conduct the train and feed the fire box, instructed by the Silver Arrow, which speaks via printed paper tape. The Silver Arrow is a glorious playground: The library car is chockablock with books while the candy car is brimful of gobstoppers and gummy bears. But amid the excitement of whistle-blowing and train conducting, Kate and Tom learn quiet messages from their animal friends. Some species, like gray squirrels and starlings, are “invaders.” The too-thin polar bear’s train platform has melted, leaving it almost drowned. Their new calling is more than just feeding the coal box—they need to find a new balance in a damaged world. “Feeling guilty doesn’t help anything,” the mamba tells them. Humans have survived so effectively they’ve taken over the world; now, he says, “you just have to take care of it.” (Illustrations not seen.)

Both cozy and inspiring, this eco-fable conveys both grim truths and a defiant call to action. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53953-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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