Chalk up another treat for Korman fans.

NOTORIOUS

Barney was legendary for appalling acts of canine depravity until his recent death; two kids—Zarabeth, his (one) mourner, and Keenan, her at-first-skeptical new friend—investigate his possible murder.

Keenan misses his cosmopolitan life in Shanghai, where his mom and stepdad teach at an international school. Recovering from tuberculosis at his dad’s house on tiny Centerlight Island, divided between the U.S. and Canada, is beyond boring until he meets Zarabeth, with Barney’s well-behaved (but sadly disdained) replacement and colorful tales of famous Prohibition-era gangsters attracted to the quiet island’s largely unguarded international border; Tommy-Gun Ferguson, who built her family’s house, might have hidden his gold bullion on the island. When Keenan, now well, proves popular at his new island school, Zarabeth feels isolated. Centrelight’s few Canadian kids must attend mainland schools via ferry. Not incidentally, the island’s more-numerous American kids resent contrarian Zarabeth’s stubborn advocacy for anything-but-lamented Barney. Now snubbed by Zarabeth, Keenan looks into Barney’s death to appease her—and finds her suspicions well founded. Like the island’s two spellings, Zarabeth’s cross-border observations wryly assert Canadian cultural identity. She and Keenan, both presumed white, alternate narration and are good company. Vivid secondary characters commit spontaneous acts of hilarious mayhem—the unscheduled school-lockdown drill is one standout—though Barney’s extreme depredations (like destroying a Porsche and a house porch in one go) occasionally strain credulity. Readers need to buy such pivotal plot points.

Chalk up another treat for Korman fans. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-279886-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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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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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