Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis

Captain No Beard leads his spunky crew north in this latest installment of Roman’s (The Crew Goes Coconuts: A Captain No Beard Story, 2014, etc.) charming series of pirate picture books.
Mongo the monkey is shivering his timbers as Captain No Beard directs his trusty ship into the frigid seas. Despite the cold, his crew delights in an iceberg sighting, until Cayla gets a piece of it stuck to her tongue in a hilarious exchange with first mate Hallie. The splashy illustrations are vibrant with colorful personality, including Fribbet the frog’s moment of panic when they are heading into cold territory and Captain No Beard’s cocky stance while he explains his mission to the crew. A pirate may be loyal, but when the crew discovers Captain No Beard plans to take “something” (eventually, he admits it’s the aurora borealis) home with him, they are very upset. They huddle together in deep discussion about how taking things without permission is wrong. Their conviction to not steal shows kids that it’s OK to stand up to friends who are asking you to do something you feel is wrong. When Hallie finally approaches Captain No Beard and gently asks “What did you want to take home, Captain?” her nonjudgmental approach is a great lesson in reminding kids (and adults!) to get all the facts before reacting. When their beloved captain shows them the aurora borealis, they are all in awe of its beauty, basking in the magnificence of nature. As they discuss the fact that taking the aurora borealis is wrong—plus, he can’t do it anyway because it only works in that particular sky—the crew subtly educates the reader with some facts about the amazing phenomenon. The clever solution to Captain No Beard’s dilemma is creative and fun, showing that sometimes you can get everything you want if you just take a moment to figure things out. The text is filled with the same cleverness that populates all the Captain No Beard books, and the intense loyalty of good friends is heartwarming, even as Roman teaches children about the boundaries of friendship.
A fantastic addition to any young pirate’s library.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1496138705

Page Count: 42

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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Good fun with a monster of a cliffhanger.

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH AND THE SKELETON ROAD

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 6

The monster-fighting gang from Wakefield departs on a post-apocalyptic road trip.

In this sixth installment of the heavily illustrated, Netflix-adapted series, quirky Jack Sullivan and his friends June, Quint, and Dirk finally leave their creature-ridden town in search of the ultimate baddie, Thrull, who previously deceived them. The quartet takes their tricked-out ride (an armored RV named Bad Mama) onto the open road (with Jack’s Zombie Squad in tow) to find the Outpost, where they believe a certain monster will be able to give them the location of the evil Tower where they believe Thrull now resides. Of course, the journey is littered with all kinds of nightmarish beasts and pitfalls (including an epic water park battle and slime-dripping baby monster), but the kids persist, armed with their endless gadgets and quick thinking. As the group races toward Thrull, the action culminates with an achingly tantalizing cliffhanger; expect audible groans and vociferous demands for the next installment. Fans of this series will revel in this fast-paced escapade with its recognizable black-and-white illustrations and trademark humor. Readers new to the series or those who are only familiar with the animated show may be a bit put off by this later volume that relies heavily on its own language of monsters and weapons. Jack, June, and Dirk are light-skinned; Quint is dark-skinned.

Good fun with a monster of a cliffhanger. (Graphic fiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984835-34-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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ZATHURA

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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