Arr-guably the best pirate fairy tale to sail the seven storytimes.


Who dares board a most worthy sea vessel when its inhabitants are out? Best be looking for the telltale golden hair.

A piratical Mama, Papa, and Baby sail upon their sloop, a villain every one. Tired of hardtack, Mama attempts some good old-fashioned gruel, but she burns it (cooking’s not really her forte, but she wields a mean cutlass). As they row ashore in their dinghy for fresh water and let the gruel cool off, a lonesome girl follows her nose to the cooling breakfast. Instead of just going through the familiar fairy-tale motions, Goldenlocks fixes up, improves, and generally makes everything better onboard. And when she’s discovered, do the pirates offer her the plank? Nay, she’s given a job as the newest recruit instead! Salerno fills the illustrations chock-full of delightful details, the wind-tousled figures, all evidently white, rendered in jewel tones. The pirates prove a comical foil to the ever savvy Goldenlocks. In upsetting the clumsy-housebreaker trope, the titular heroine is something of a jack-of-all-trades, making her a perfect complement to other STEM-girl heroines. Somewhat less forward-thinking is that it’s Mama pirate who is the cook in the family while peg-legged Papa watches; some stereotypes don’t die.

Arr-guably the best pirate fairy tale to sail the seven storytimes. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-30074-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Hee haw.

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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