A lubberly outing, stereotypewise.

PIRATES IN CLASS 3

A clever lad leads his classmates and a pirate who crawls in through the window to troves of hidden treasure.

Heaps of gold coins do make a shiny stand-in for the “treasures” more likely to be found in a classroom, but a yarn in which the good guy is signaled by a false disability and the bad guy by a real one belongs in Davy Jones’ locker. Taking advantage of teacher Ms. Bitsy’s momentary absence, Capt. Calamity—dressed with proper swash and buckle in the cartoon illustrations but only holding the requisite hook in his hand—arrives in search of a treasure in the classroom buried, he’s been told, “under the sea.” Fruitless ransacking ensues until at last young Alex, contemplating the alphabet pinned to the wall, realizes that the clue is actually “under the C.” Indeed, pulling a lever beneath the letter opens a watery gulf under the floorboards, where the children (and their equally enthusiastic teacher) find a chest of gold coins. Better yet, after Ms. Bitsy sternly sends off bullying rival Pirate Bloodloss, a menacing figure with an actual peg leg, by threatening to tell his parents (“Argh! Not Mommy,” he whimpers), Alex has a further golden alphabetical insight: “X always marks the spot!” If nothing else, the captain “hooks” Ms. Bitsy, who’s simpering, “Call me Daphne” by the final scene. Alex and the grown-ups are white, but Whitehouse depicts the rest of the class with a mix of light and dark skin.

A lubberly outing, stereotypewise. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-84886-360-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Maverick Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back.

TINY T. REX AND THE IMPOSSIBLE HUG

With such short arms, how can Tiny T. Rex give a sad friend a hug?

Fleck goes for cute in the simple, minimally detailed illustrations, drawing the diminutive theropod with a chubby turquoise body and little nubs for limbs under a massive, squared-off head. Impelled by the sight of stegosaurian buddy Pointy looking glum, little Tiny sets out to attempt the seemingly impossible, a comforting hug. Having made the rounds seeking advice—the dino’s pea-green dad recommends math; purple, New Age aunt offers cucumber juice (“That is disgusting”); red mom tells him that it’s OK not to be able to hug (“You are tiny, but your heart is big!”), and blue and yellow older sibs suggest practice—Tiny takes up the last as the most immediately useful notion. Unfortunately, the “tree” the little reptile tries to hug turns out to be a pterodactyl’s leg. “Now I am falling,” Tiny notes in the consistently self-referential narrative. “I should not have let go.” Fortunately, Tiny lands on Pointy’s head, and the proclamation that though Rexes’ hugs may be tiny, “I will do my very best because you are my very best friend” proves just the mood-lightening ticket. “Thank you, Tiny. That was the biggest hug ever.” Young audiences always find the “clueless grown-ups” trope a knee-slapper, the overall tone never turns preachy, and Tiny’s instinctive kindness definitely puts him at (gentle) odds with the dinky dino star of Bob Shea’s Dinosaur Vs. series.

Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7033-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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PUG BLASTS OFF

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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