This mouse-sized identity quest sparkles.

THE MOUSE WITH THE QUESTION MARK TAIL

Peck returns to the parallel mouse society he introduced in the effervescent Secrets at Sea (2011) for a rodent’s-eye view of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

Readers first meet the titular mouse, the book’s narrator, in the Royal Mews. A foundling, he’s been brought up by his “aunt” Marigold, who is fond of aphorisms. “Nameless is Blameless” is one of her favorites, used whenever her young charge asks who he is. Blameless he may be, but that doesn’t keep him out of scrapes. On the run from a couple of school bullies, he finds himself exposed, in his school uniform, on the floor of the royal riding school, where he is noticed by a human—most definitely not the done thing. In short order, he goes from this disgrace to refuge in a horse’s manger to a daylong stint as a Yeomouse of the Guard to the private chambers of Queen Victoria, where he blunders into secret upon secret, including, at the end, his identity. Peck binds this unlikely romp together with his characteristically witty and precise prose, flavored by an endearing blend of humility and superiority that only a British foundling mouse can muster. Details of the mouse world that bustles around and under the human world will enchant lovers of animal fantasy, and clever running jokes provide both humor and continuity (our poor hero is repeatedly asked, “Are you not yet full-grown, or just short?”).

This mouse-sized identity quest sparkles. (Animal fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3838-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2013

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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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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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