PAJAMA PIRATES

Nighttime is the right time for adventurous children to sail the high seas in this sweet bedtime book. As the moon rises, three kids step aboard their trusty boat to search for treasure. Along the way they encounter some pirate scoundrels and win the day, only to return to their beds to continue their adventures in their dreams. Kramer’s gentle text takes children to the edges of adventure then brings them home again. Alas, poor text layout in one spread means that some readers will have difficulty parsing where his rhymes are meant to fall. “Then through the fog, /  a cannon blast rips the sail / and splits the mast,” will be intuitive after a second reading, but it’s not immediately clear. That said, Lammle’s blue-infused watercolors compensate for this and more, providing her button-nosed buccaneers (and their dog) plenty of action followed by sweet victory. She also tips her hat to that other bedtime adventurer, Little Nemo, with full-faced moons and sleep-based adventures. A swell choice for small pirate adventurers ready to clash swords from the comfort of their own beds. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-125194-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2010

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Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out?

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THE PRINCESS IN BLACK

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 1

Perfect Princess Magnolia has a secret—her alter ego is the Princess in Black, a superhero figure who protects the kingdom!

When nosy Duchess Wigtower unexpectedly drops by Princess Magnolia’s castle, Magnolia must protect her secret identity from the duchess’s prying. But then Magnolia’s monster alarm, a glitter-stone ring, goes off. She must save the day, leaving the duchess unattended in her castle. After a costume change, the Princess in Black joins her steed, Blacky (public identity: Frimplepants the unicorn), to protect Duff the goat boy and his goats from a shaggy, blue, goat-eating monster. When the monster refuses to see reason, Magnolia fights him, using special moves like the “Sparkle Slam” and the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Smash.” The rounded, cartoony illustrations featuring chubby characters keep the fight sequence soft and comical. Watching the fight, Duff notices suspicious similarities between the Princess in Black and Magnolia—quickly dismissed as “a silly idea”—much like the duchess’s dismissal of some discovered black stockings as being simply dirty, as “princesses don’t wear black.” The gently ironic text will amuse readers (including adults reading the book aloud). The large print and illustrations expand the book to a longish-yet-manageable length, giving newly independent readers a sense of accomplishment. The ending hints at another hero, the Goat Avenger.

Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out? (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6510-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

CAPTAIN AWESOME TO THE RESCUE!

From the Captain Awesome series , Vol. 1

The town of Sunnyview got a little bit safer when 8-year-old Eugene McGillicudy moved in.

Just like his comic-book mentor, Super Dude, Eugene, aka Captain Awesome, is on a one-man mission is to save the world from supervillains, like the nefarious “Queen Stinkypants from Planet Baby.” Just as Eugene suspected, plenty of new supervillains await him at Sunnyview Elementary. Are Meredith Mooney and the mind-reading Ms. Beasley secretly working together to try and force Eugene to reveal his secret identity? Will Principal Brick Foot succeed in throwing Captain Awesome into the “Dungeon of Detention?” Fortunately, Eugene isn’t forced to go it alone. Charlie Thomas Jones, fellow comic-book lover and Super Dude fan, stands ready and willing to help. When the class hamster goes missing, Captain Awesome must don his cape and, with the help of his new best friend, ride to the rescue. Kirby’s funny and engaging third-person narration and O’Connor’s hilarious illustrations make the book easily accessible and enormously appealing, particularly to readers who have recently graduated to chapter books. But it is the quirky, mischievous Eugene that really makes this book special. His energy and humor are contagious, and his dogged commitment to his superhero alter ego is enough to make anyone a believer.  

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4090-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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