This inventive, modern fairy-tale adventure is sprinkled with wry humor.

WANDA SEASONGOOD AND THE MOSTLY TRUE SECRET

From the Wanda Seasongood series , Vol. 1

Wanda’s 11th birthday begins with a bluebird flying smack into her bedroom window, and then it gets worse.

Wanda always tries to be kind and helpful. Still, her parents chastise her and praise Zane, her horrible beast of a younger brother, no matter what happens, even when he spits peas at her across the dinner table. Every birthday she wishes to suddenly become an orphan. It turns out that the bluebird, named Voltaire, has a secret message to deliver, but he cannot remember it. On a journey to learn what it is, the two go into the Scary Wood among all sorts of creatures who wish her ill (and frequently almost succeed in doing it). Amid many magical mishaps, transfigurative perils, and a smooch-obsessed frog, Wanda hopes to discover her “true” family. The text is well constructed, containing odd scraps sewn together into an imaginative story quilt. There’s a supernatural cast chock-full of familiar types in fiendishly new forms, such as the Groods, chimerically composed of various flora and fauna. Wanda is by turns charmingly flabbergasted and persistently practical but ever well meaning; readers are sure to root for her along the journey. Textual descriptions combine with Harney’s cartoon illustrations to establish a largely white cast; in a welcome twist for a genre that too often racializes evil, the dreadful witch has “creamy” skin.

This inventive, modern fairy-tale adventure is sprinkled with wry humor. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-04315-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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