Dance, drama, and a star turn make this a page-turning tale.

THE NUTCRACKER MICE

Ballet is beautiful for a mouse ballerina.

Irina, a white, Russian girl whose parents work backstage at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, loves ballet. Esmeralda, a Russian mouse who lives in the Mariinsky, also loves ballet. It’s 1892, and The Nutcracker: A Ballet in Two Acts with music by Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky is set to premier. The mice also have a company, the Russian Mouse Ballet Company, and are planning their own production to the same music. But Esmeralda faces a terrible conflict. Can a mouse troupe dance to a scenario that features evil mice who are defeated in battle? Kladstrup has crafted a dual tale filled with charm, humor, conflict, and danger. The humans (most of them, at least) are out to exterminate the mice; Tchaikovsky is especially rodentophobic, while Irina is especially sympathetic and helpful. Esmeralda emerges as the perfect main character. She faces trials as a dancer—managing her tail properly is difficult. She displays courage and know-how in obtaining costumes from Irina’s doll, crafts an appropriate mouse version of the story, and best of all, she finds her dance muse in the gloriously enchanting score. The synopses for both ballets are included. Helquist’s full-page panels in shades of black are delightfully expressive and are filled with charming details.

Dance, drama, and a star turn make this a page-turning tale. (author’s note) (Animal fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8519-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Happily, Kerley’s execution matches her ambition, resulting in a highly readable story that pairs a rapid-fire plot with a...

FOLLOWING BAXTER

There is a lot going on in this mystery/sci-fi/coming-of-age adventure about a girl and the charismatic dog next door.

When Professor Reese moves in with her giant, gray, shaggy dog, Baxter, next door to 11-year-old Jordie Marie Wallace, Jordie’s life changes in a number of ways: she’s always wanted a dog; she awakens to the lure of scientific discovery; and she experiences a number of “opportunities to be more dependable.” Dense plotlines weave together many intertwining threads, but it all fits together. A subplot about Jordie’s participation in a “Study Buddies” project and one about her circle of friends’ plan to open a hairdresser/vet/day care both turn out to be key to the development of her self-awareness. This is all back story to the main storyline: Jordie volunteers to walk Baxter while Professor Reese works on her research into the possibility of teleportation. When Professor Reese disappears, Jordie, her brother, and “magical” Baxter work together to solve the case. Clues to Jordie’s strengths and challenges are not explicitly articulated but are aptly shown through other characters’ reactions. Her relationships with friends and family are realistic, which juxtaposes cleverly with the speculative aspect of the plot. The book subscribes to the white default, with racial diversity hinted at in supporting characters’ names.

Happily, Kerley’s execution matches her ambition, resulting in a highly readable story that pairs a rapid-fire plot with a likable protagonist. (Science fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-249978-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves.

SCAREDY CAT

Two shelter cats take on a mysterious puss with weird powers who is terrorizing the feline community.

Hardly have timorous (and aptly named) Poop and her sophisticated buddy, Pasha, been brought home by their new “human beans” for a two-week trial than they are accosted by fiery-eyed Scaredy Cat, utterly trashing the kitchen with a click of his claws and, hissing that he’s in charge of the neighborhood, threatening that if they don’t act like proper cats—disdaining ordinary cat food and any summons (they are not dogs, after all), clawing the furniture instead of the scratching post, and showing like “cattitude”—it’ll be back to the shelter for them. Will Poop and Pasha prove to be fraidycats or flee to the cowed clowder of homeless cats hiding from the bully in the nearby woods? Nope, they are made of sterner stuff and resolutely set out to enlist feline allies in a “quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of purrs!” Cast into a gazillion very short chapters related by furry narrators Poop and Pasha, who are helpfully depicted in portrait vignettes by Herzog at each chapter’s head, the ensuing adventures test the defiant kitties’ courage (and, in some cases, attention spans) on the way to a spooky but poignant climax set, appropriately enough as it happens, in a pet graveyard.

A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves. (Adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49443-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more