FEARLESS DAVE

Younger readers who prefer their tales of knightly valor straight up should eschew this droll, double-stranded import. Expressing doubts that King Alfred really burnt those cakes, or that Canute got wet feet, Wilson proceeds in paired cartoon panels to deliver a rhymed official rendition and a slangy factual account of how young Dave the peasant drove a fearsome beast out of Princess Peach’s bedchamber—thus, naturally, earning her hand in marriage. Dave’s quick-thinking mother expedites the process, determining that the “horrid creature” squeaks and is fond of cheese, but persuading the suspicious King Arfwitt and Queen Girdlestein that it’s a dragon nonetheless, then letting nature take its course with the young folk. Wilson outfits every character with eyeglasses, “arms” Dave with a wooden sword and a bucket for a helmet (“you look a right wally,” his mom observes), and encloses verses, dialogue and the frequent asides in balloons. Children trained to expect action on every page may find the episode a bit wordy and slow-going, but there’s certainly food for thought here, as well as an amiable, silly story. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-84507-496-3

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2006

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Perhaps the captain’s next outing will find all its elements in better sync.

CAPTAIN COCONUT AND THE CASE OF THE MISSING BANANAS

From the Captain Coconut series , Vol. 1

Part clever Sherlock Holmes, part bumbling Maxwell Smart, the turbaned Capt. Coconut is a new detective on the scene.

He sets out to solve a case involving the three members of an Indian household: Mrs. Y, her sister, and her nephew, Gilli. Mrs. Y bought 14 bananas, but some are missing. She can account for four—they were eaten—but only six can still be found. After using his calculator to perform the simple mathematical task involved, the detective quickly realizes how many are gone, but the determined sleuth must still find the perpetrator. References, visual and verbal, to Bollywood musical interludes and vaudeville slapstick (remember banana peels) spice up the action, but the math is not complex enough for readers who have the sophistication to enjoy the dry wit and the unusual collage panels of this short graphic novel. The foolish detective, with his round belly sticking out of his safari suit and his red knee socks matching his red paisley nose, can’t open his office door or start his scooter, but of course he does finally solve the mystery. Suffice it to say, an unpleasant stomach ailment provides a clue. Creative readers can provide their own tunes for the three original songs, and the digital collages are filled with zany retro details.

Perhaps the captain’s next outing will find all its elements in better sync. (Graphic mystery. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-93-83145-22-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Tara Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010).

TOBY AND THE ICE GIANTS

A small bison meets some ice age megafauna in this prehistoric ramble.

Assuring his mom that “I’m big now. I’m not scared!” little Toby scampers off. He collides with a grumpy woolly rhinoceros, introduces himself to a Megatherium, wonders at a woolly mammoth’s tusks, and sidles anxiously past a handful of other Pleistocene creatures—including a group of fur-clad humans—before gamboling back to safety. Along with exchanged greetings, each encounter comes with a side box of descriptive facts and comments, plus a small image of the animal posed next to a human (in modern dress) for comparison. Young viewers will marvel at the succession of massive ruminants and predators, which Lillington renders in watercolors with reasonable accuracy, if anthropomorphic facial expressions. He offers measurements in metric units only (except for humans, whose weight is opaquely designated “average”). Rather anticlimactically, he caps his gallery with a perfunctory, unillustrated list of “some other amazing ice age animals that Toby didn’t get to meet!”

A skimpy alternative to Adrian Lister and Martin Ursell’s Ice Age Tracker’s Guide (2010). (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-909263-58-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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