Anemic fare for would-be buccaneers.



Avast! There’s more to a real pirate’s life than plunder and parties.

As in Who Wants To Be A Princess? (2017, illustrated by Migy), Heos contrasts romance with reality—but not in any particularly perceptive, or even accurate, way. Addressing readers whose idea of “pirate” starts and ends with the likes of Capt. Hook or Jack Sparrow, the equally fictional Capt. Parrot (a white human with a diverse crew) does present pirate food as wormy in good times and boiled boots in bad, and gives redolent new meaning to the term “poop deck” thanks to the livestock on board. But aside from drinking punch and having food fights, he barely alludes to actual piratical behavior or history. Duncan is no better, as he shows a cartoon crew firing anachronistic breech-loading cannons and then contradicting the narrative claim that victims are thrown overboard by providing them a boat and supplies. He also depicts a carpenter “surgeon” flourishing but not using a faintly discolored saw, leaves the captured captain being bundled aboard a paddy wagon rather than hanged, and offers a final view of an apparently uninhabited pirate ship sailing along. An afterword on the Golden Age of Piracy, capped by a bibliography, at least points to piracy’s less savory side.

Anemic fare for would-be buccaneers. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9770-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of...


A 50th-anniversary commemoration of the epochal Apollo 11 mission.

Modeling her account on “The House That Jack Built” (an unspoken, appropriate nod to President John F. Kennedy’s foundational role in the enterprise), Greene takes Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins from liftoff to post-splashdown ticker-tape parade. Side notes on some spreads and two pages of further facts with photographs at the end, all in smaller type, fill in select details about the mission and its historical context. The rhymed lines are fully cumulated only once, so there is some repetition but never enough to grow monotonous: “This is the Moon, a mysterious place, / a desolate land in the darkness of space, / far from Earth with oceans blue.” Also, the presentation of the text in just three or fewer lines per spread stretches out the narrative and gives Brundage latitude for both formal and informal group portraits of Apollo 11’s all-white crew, multiple glimpses of our planet and the moon at various heights, and, near the end, atmospheric (so to speak) views of the abandoned lander and boot prints in the lunar dust.

It’s not the most dramatic version, but it’s a visually effective and serviceable addition to the rapidly growing shelf of tributes to our space program’s high-water mark. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-412-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Solid, if not revolutionary.



Albee and Ko take their shot at an early-reader biography about Alexander Hamilton.

Emergent readers (and their caregivers) familiar with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical Hamilton will be rewarded with what amounts to an illustrated highlights reel of the founding father’s life. Albee opens in medias res by describing Hamilton as “a soldier, a lawyer, and a financial wizard,” before the spare text quickly brings readers to Hamilton’s Caribbean childhood, noting his father’s abandonment, his mother’s death, and his determined rise from poverty. He’s presented as a trusted adviser to George Washington and rival to Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, with Ko’s accompanying digital art depicting him with a smiling man on horseback (Washington), while on the facing page, the two other men scowl. A later spread notes major differences between Jefferson and Hamilton, including acknowledgment that Jefferson enslaved people while “Hamilton was against slavery,” but Washington’s slave-owner status isn’t named, nor is the American Revolution’s impact on Indigenous peoples. Personal milestones, such as marriage to Eliza Schuyler, are noted alongside references to his involvement in the war and his work with the nascent American government. While his death occurs on the page, strategies to keep the text within the comprehension of its audience risk undermining other historical content by omitting such terms as “revolution” and the Federalist Papers (though they do appear in backmatter).

Solid, if not revolutionary. (Early reader/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-243291-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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