A wild ride that will make spirits soar.

SPIRIT RIDING FREE

THE ADVENTURE BEGINS

Finishing school is no place for an adventurous, high-energy girl, so when Fortuna “Lucky” Esperanza Navarro Prescott’s widower father is called west to supervise the railroad’s last push to the Pacific, she begs to accompany him.

But when biracial (white/Latina) Lucky, her white, railroad-magnate father, and his sister, Cora, arrive in Miradero after a long train ride, it is nothing like any of them imagined. With her father busy with work, it is up to Lucky and her aunt to set up their home and make friends. Stuffy Cora soon finds her society ways at odds with the reality of her new home. And Lucky realizes that unless she learns to ride a horse, she will forever be on the outside. When she meets a wild stallion penned in town, Lucky hopes that she has inherited more than her dark hair and brown skin from her trick-riding mother, a former circus performer who died when she was 2. Inspired by the 2002 movie Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron, Lucky’s adventures in her new home will woo history fans and Western buffs alike. Lucky’s bicultural heritage is given short shrift, and Miradero’s race relations feel ahistorical at best; snobbish Mrs. Gutierriez, the mayor’s wife (and mother of mean girl Maricela), bemoans the difficulty of finding good help to the equally snooty Cora. But the fresh voice and unbridled enthusiasm of both girl and horse will inspire anyone dealing with their own isolation and teasing.

A wild ride that will make spirits soar. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-50622-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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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