As Capt. Crave says, “Shiver me Shih Tzus!” There’s some fun here

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PIRATE'S PERFECT PET

A petless pirate goes on a mission to secure an ideal companion.

When the fearless Capt. Crave fills out the “Think you’re the Perfect Pirate Captain?” quiz his mother sends by bottle, he finds he meets most of the requirements, save “Pet.” (The disability stereotypes “Eye patch,” “Hook,” and “Peg leg” are also criteria.) Consequently, he and his intrepid, diverse crew set forth to find an animal of superior caliber. (Crave is white, his mate is a black woman, and one masculine-looking white pirate wears a pink bathrobe and bunny slippers throughout.) Always making a commotion (“as good pirates should”) wherever they go, they storm a beach, raid a farm, and invade a zoo. Alas, there are lots of animals to discover, but each one is seriously flawed—if not actively aggressive. Ears are pinched. Pants are eaten. Limbs are devoured (fulfilling the “Peg leg” on Crave’s “to-do list”). Fortunately, when the pirates finally visit a pet store, it’s a naughty bird inside that proves to be the perfect captain companion. Rife with buccaneer-speak and salty seadog sentences, Ferry’s text uses repetition to its greatest advantage. Meanwhile, Myers’ thick acrylic and oil paints render both buccaneers and beasts in an attractive angular style while also hiding a multitude of tiny details (keep an eye at all times on the expressive skull on the captain’s hat).

As Capt. Crave says, “Shiver me Shih Tzus!” There’s some fun here . (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7288-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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THE WONKY DONKEY

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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CREEPY CARROTS!

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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