An older sister’s literary torment of her brother backfires in this spooky tale of pirates. Ellery has chosen a library book that she’s sure will frighten young Max, who would rather read about cats than pirates. She maximizes the scare factor by waiting until dark to begin reading aloud with a flashlight. The text alternates between the italicized words of the library book and the action in the den, where the siblings are curled up in their sleeping bags. While Max tries to downplay each thing in the book, Ellery’s interpretations are downright evil. Where Max sees the Spanish moss hanging from the trees as green tinsel, Ellery tells him that it’s pirate’s hair. The pelicans aren’t stretching to catch raindrops in their bills—“They scream silent screams of pirate victims.” But gradually Ellery’s stories catch up with her. Will Max rescue her when the pirates step out of the book with their eye patches and hooks? Heh, heh, heh. Then she can go to the library and get that book about cats. Lamm (Prog Frince: A Mixed-Up Tale, 1999, etc.) has created two very creative children with wonderful imaginations. Schuett’s (Fat Chance Thanksgiving, p. 1215, etc.) oil paintings masterfully show the two children (and their black cat) growing more and more frightened. These are interspersed with pirate scenes that, although spooky, also show a kind of dark humor. In a beach scene, crabs watch the pirate ship with eyes that poke out of the sand on stalks, and on the pirates’ island, a skeleton keeps watch over the X that marks the spot. This is a tale best told at Halloween, but right any time a good scare is in order. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7868-0392-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2001

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Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.


From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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