Themes of diversity and self-esteem not only fill the sails, but keep firm grasp of the wheel in this nautical caper.

LITTLE CAPTAIN JACK

From the Little Captain Jack series

A pirate captain so tiny he can be stuffed in a rival captain’s pocket discovers that greatness can come in any size or shape.

That conclusion, though worthy, doesn’t have much connection to the actual story, but it’s so good-natured most readers won’t mind. Being so dinky that his own crew can’t hear his commands, Little Captain Jack is finally driven to tears when Pirate Badlock ends a shipboard battle by picking him up and chucking him into the “cellar.” But after he manages to escape with help from a mouse and a sea gull, Jack rejoins his delighted crew and “finally felt proud and happy to be Little Captain Jack!” Outfitted with wooden swords and, in Badlock’s case, a fork rather than a hook at the end of one arm, the fierce but not very dangerous-looking pirates here include dogs, cats, and birds as well as men and women both brown or (more commonly) pink of skin. Eye patches and lopped limbs can be seen on every, er, hand, and one rosy-cheeked young tar even gets around in a wheelchair, begad. Carretero clearly enjoys making the most of Little Captain Jack’s diminutive size, positioning him in the shadow of an enormous sneaker in one scene and dwarfing him by his mouse friend in another.

Themes of diversity and self-esteem not only fill the sails, but keep firm grasp of the wheel in this nautical caper. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-84-945415-0-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...

MY NEW FRIEND IS SO FUN!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound.

HOW TO CATCH A GINGERBREAD MAN

From the How To Catch… series

The titular cookie runs off the page at a bookstore storytime, pursued by young listeners and literary characters.

Following on 13 previous How To Catch… escapades, Wallace supplies sometimes-tortured doggerel and Elkerton, a set of helter-skelter cartoon scenes. Here the insouciant narrator scampers through aisles, avoiding a series of elaborate snares set by the racially diverse young storytime audience with help from some classic figures: “Alice and her mad-hat friends, / as a gift for my unbirthday, / helped guide me through the walls of shelves— / now I’m bound to find my way.” The literary helpers don’t look like their conventional or Disney counterparts in the illustrations, but all are clearly identified by at least a broad hint or visual cue, like the unnamed “wizard” who swoops in on a broom to knock over a tower labeled “Frogwarts.” Along with playing a bit fast and loose with details (“Perhaps the boy with the magic beans / saved me with his cow…”) the author discards his original’s lip-smacking climax to have the errant snack circling back at last to his book for a comfier sort of happily-ever-after.

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0935-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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