Another trunk full of golden pirate treasure from Roman.

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A Flag For The Flying Dragon

A CAPTAIN NO BEARD STORY

In Roman’s (Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles, 2015, etc.) newest pirate adventure for kids, a new crew member rocks the boat.

It’s business as usual on the Flying Dragon, as Captain No Beard humorously laments that “Being a captain is hard work” while standing on deck and watching his crew do all the work. He’s a pirate with pride, however, and he’s diligently searching for a flag worthy of his beloved ship. He’s distracted from his musings, however, when a commotion breaks out. He soon discovers that Mongo the monkey has been derailed from his lookout duties on the mast by the newest crew member—a diaper-wearing baby named Zachary. He’s big-time trouble, as many toddlers are, and everything he touches seems to get destroyed, much to the crew’s dismay. Their love for him is clear, especially from his big sister, Hallie, but it’s also heartbreaking for them to see their ship and crew falling apart under his assault. The colorful, vibrant illustrations vividly portray the havoc Zachary wreaks upon the Flying Dragon as the crew tries to find him a job to do. No coconut or lion’s paw is safe from the club-wielding baby, but the crew admirably tries to stay positive despite the damage. Roman gently reminds young readers not to call people names, no matter how tough a situation may be, and deftly slides that lesson into the ongoing story. Hallie’s dismay when Zachary finally takes her job is endearing, and readers will feel the other crew members’ emotions as Zachary takes his toll. Captain No Beard’s selfless solution is a touching, beautiful display that shows how self-sacrifice can lead to greater things than one ever imagined; it also provides a gentle hug to older children who may be tormented by their younger siblings. Although Roman manages to blend a lesson or two into her text, this is a story of adventure, angst, loyalty, and creativity that will rivet young readers. It also has enough humor and depth to appeal to adults.

Another trunk full of golden pirate treasure from Roman.

Pub Date: March 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1507826928

Page Count: 46

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2015

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Thought-provoking and charming.

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THE WILD ROBOT

A sophisticated robot—with the capacity to use senses of sight, hearing, and smell—is washed to shore on an island, the only robot survivor of a cargo of 500.

When otters play with her protective packaging, the robot is accidently activated. Roz, though without emotions, is intelligent and versatile. She can observe and learn in service of both her survival and her principle function: to help. Brown links these basic functions to the kind of evolution Roz undergoes as she figures out how to stay dry and intact in her wild environment—not easy, with pine cones and poop dropping from above, stormy weather, and a family of cranky bears. She learns to understand and eventually speak the language of the wild creatures (each species with its different “accent”). An accident leaves her the sole protector of a baby goose, and Roz must ask other creatures for help to shelter and feed the gosling. Roz’s growing connection with her environment is sweetly funny, reminiscent of Randall Jarrell’s The Animal Family. At every moment Roz’s actions seem plausible and logical yet surprisingly full of something like feeling. Robot hunters with guns figure into the climax of the story as the outside world intrudes. While the end to Roz’s benign and wild life is startling and violent, Brown leaves Roz and her companions—and readers—with hope.

Thought-provoking and charming. (Science fiction/fantasy. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-38199-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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