A fantastic pirate adventure that mixes life and science lessons with danger, friendship, and triumph.


Being a Captain Is Hard Work


From the Captain No Beard series , Vol. 10

Roman’s (If You Were Me and Lived in…Italy, 2015) newest Captain No Beard adventure takes the stormy high seas to a new level.

Captain No Beard and his crew are off on an adventure to Dew Rite Volcano, but there are clouds on the horizon. Although the captain’s crew expresses concern about possible bad weather, he dismisses them, claiming to be the resident expert on clouds. Despite increasingly rough seas, he orders Polly to make chocolate pudding in the galley and baby Zach to raise the flag. The crew becomes more agitated as the weather worsens, but the captain still refuses to acknowledge their points, insisting that it’s his job to make decisions. It isn’t until he has to save Zach from being swept overboard that he finally realizes how dangerous the situation is. At first, he refuses to apologize, using his traditional lament that “Being a captain is hard work,” but his crew reminds him that it isn’t his job to know everything. As a team, they say, they can work together to make good decisions if they trust one another’s knowledge. Hallie wisely points out that he has “two ears and one mouth” because listening is more important than talking. The captain finally apologizes and admits that he doesn’t, in fact, know everything, and his team cheers his wisdom. As in all the Captain No Beard books, Roman weaves a powerful lesson into the adventure, teaching young readers about friendship, humility, asking for help, and forgiveness. It does feel slightly repetitive when the captain continuously disregards his crew’s concerns about the storm, but the raging seas and rising danger keep things moving along. The illustrations are clever and engaging, bringing Captain No Beard and his crew effectively to life. The roiling clouds and stormy seas also provide great images. Roman adds an extra bonus with the captain’s discussion of the different types of clouds, and a glossary at the end of the book provides a good recap for young readers wishing to learn more.

A fantastic pirate adventure that mixes life and science lessons with danger, friendship, and triumph.

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5227-8178-3

Page Count: 60

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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A trite, knock-off sequel to Jumanji (1981). The “Jumanji” box distracts Walter Budwing away from beating up on his little brother Danny, but it’s Danny who discovers the Zathura board inside—and in no time, Earth is far behind, a meteor has smashed through the roof, and a reptilian Zyborg pirate is crawling through the hole. Each throw of the dice brings an ominous new development, portrayed in grainy, penciled freeze frames featuring sculptured-looking figures in constricted, almost claustrophobic settings. The angles of view are, as always, wonderfully dramatic, but not only is much of the finer detail that contributed to Jumanji’s astonishing realism missing, the spectacular damage being done to the Budwings’ house as the game progresses is, by and large, only glimpsed around the picture edges. Naturally, having had his bacon repeatedly saved by his younger sibling’s quick thinking, once Walter falls through a black hole to a time preceding the game’s start, his attitude toward Danny undergoes a sudden, radical transformation. Van Allsburg’s imagination usually soars right along with his accomplished art—but here, both are just running in place. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-25396-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

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An elderly witch, a magical girl, a brave carpenter, a wise monster, a tiny dragon, paper birds, and a madwoman converge to thwart a magician who feeds on sorrow.

Every year Elders of the Protectorate leave a baby in the forest, warning everyone an evil Witch demands this sacrifice. In reality, every year, a kind witch named Xan rescues the babies and find families for them. One year Xan saves a baby girl with a crescent birthmark who accidentally feeds on moonlight and becomes “enmagicked.” Magic babies can be tricky, so Xan adopts little Luna herself and lovingly raises her, with help from an ancient swamp monster and a chatty, wee dragon. Luna’s magical powers emerge as her 13th birthday approaches. Meanwhile, Luna’s deranged real mother enters the forest to find her daughter. Simultaneously, a young carpenter from the Protectorate enters the forest to kill the Witch and end the sacrifices. Xan also enters the forest to rescue the next sacrificed child, and Luna, the monster, and the dragon enter the forest to protect Xan. In the dramatic denouement, a volcano erupts, the real villain attempts to destroy all, and love prevails. Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces. Luna has black eyes, curly, black hair, and “amber” skin.

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-567-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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