A challenging exercise in decoding strong human emotions—but worth the effort.


From the Netherlands via New Zealand, 10 short stories with casts of animal characters examine varying aspects of anger, whether overt, subtle, or suppressed.

In the first tale, a firebelly toad’s anger takes the form of harsh and violent attacks on other animals, causing them great pain. The toad demands expressions of anger from the victims but perceives their anger as not real or strong enough. The victims are upset because they cannot understand the immensity of the firebelly toad’s anger. In another story, a squirrel is sad that his ant friend has gone away; he cannot be angry but waits patiently for the ant’s return—but his anger is displaced, strangely enough, onto the walls of his home. Most of the tales involve animals in varying stages of anger, some directing it inward, some lashing out at others, some fearing another’s anger, and some letting it go. Many of the male animals are actively aggressive, while many of the females display stereotypes. The ant needs to be rescued, the praying mantis is a fashionista, and the frog displays jealousy. Boutavant’s rich, nuanced illustrations depict the animals as expressing human emotions and living in humanlike dwellings while still remaining true to their species in appearance. Youngsters might be quite perplexed by the tales, for Tellegen rarely provides clues to the characters’ motivations and often leaves readers to arrive at their own conclusions. They would be well served by reading and discussing the work with a loving grown-up.

A challenging exercise in decoding strong human emotions—but worth the effort. (Illustrated stories. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-776573-45-5

Page Count: 82

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...


At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff


From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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