A refreshingly atypical exercise in waging peace, despite the tired “X vs. Y” scenario.

READ REVIEW

PIRATES VS. COWBOYS

Argot issues nearly spark a brawl in this addition to the trendy “head-to-head mashup” genre.

These antagonists confront one another not on the base paths as in Mark Summers and Aaron Frisch’s Pirates at the Plate (2012) but on the dusty streets of Old Cheyenne. They square off after noxious Capt. Burnt Beard’s uncharacteristically civil “Be ye knowin’ where we’d be findin’ a fair scrub and a swish?” is greeted with an uncomprehending sneer by Black Bob McKraw and his band of rustlers—themselves “nastier than week-old chili, and twice as gassy.” It seems pirates don’t speak cowboy, and cowboys don’t speak pirate. Happily, the opportune arrival of Pegleg Highnoon, “the world’s only pirate cowboy,” literally clears the air as he insults both gangs in their respective jargons. Having found common ground (“Yes, it was their stench. But it was a start”), all head amicably for the town’s only bathhouse and saloon. Using muddy colors to provide an unwashed look, Barneda pits a scurvy crew of sea creatures led by an octopus against a posse of prairie critters headed up by a scowling bull. All are dressed in occupation-appropriate duds, including Highnoon (a generic-looking reptile presumably intended to be a marine iguana), who sports a mix of iconic gear from peg leg to Stetson.

A refreshingly atypical exercise in waging peace, despite the tired “X vs. Y” scenario. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-85874-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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