A fine addition to the canon of fractured fairy tales.

FROGGED

Princess Imogene wonders whether she is as good as she should be when she reads that a princess ought to be as good as she is beautiful in The Art of Being a Princess, a gift—a hint?—from her mother. She is, and more.

For moments later, when a rude frog claiming to be a prince asks her to kiss him, Imogene ignores her revulsion, puckers her lips and…turns into a frog!—a consequence he neglected to mention. Imogene will not consider putting someone else at risk, except maybe the unscrupulous actor who refuses to take Imogene home, instead making her the talking-frog star of his traveling show. Imogene is afraid she will never be unfrogged. Uneducated, boy-crazy Luella, a member of the troupe, may be Imogene’s only hope. Readers will be quickly immersed in the story. Chuckle-worthy chapter headings torn from the aforementioned etiquette book paired with snarky commentary keep children apprised of Imogene’s status. Concise, sassy prose feels comfortably modern yet stays true to an earlier time. Characters emerge through conversations and actions, especially Luella, who, in contrast to Imogene, allows for observations about class, education and the role of women. Interestingly, it is Luella and Imogene’s mother who effect the rescue.

A fine addition to the canon of fractured fairy tales. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-94215-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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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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