Roman charms with an imaginative, whimsical picture book that will entertain even the oldest pirates.

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CAPTAIN NO BEARD

AN IMAGINARY TALE OF A PIRATE'S LIFE

Debut author Roman pens a picture book about an imaginative boy who transforms his bed and stuffed animals into props for a marvelous pirate adventure.

Roman draws the reader in from the first page with illustrations that are cheerful and clever. The story showcases a young pirate and his menagerie: cousin Hallie, a first mate who sports a purple bandanna and ruffled pirate shirt; Linus, the loudmouthed but scaredy-cat lion with a braided goatee; Fribbet, the floppy frog with an audacious red pirate hat; and Mongo, the mast-climbing monkey who charms with an eye patch and endearingly oversized lips. Roman deftly creates an appealing visual experience with engaging, bright illustrations that will appeal to young readers. The characters are rich with animated expressions and personalities that showcase the creative and warmhearted ways the characters have fun. Well-drafted secondary characters also include the “mermaid” who appears with a plate of golden doubloons (in the form of cookies) and orders the pirate not to get crumbs on the bed when eating them. The text has a lovely intonation when read aloud, and the simple, understandable story also carries a more complex, clever subtext that will allow for educational discussions. The captain’s constant good-natured lament that “being a captain is hard work”—as he watches his crew do all the actual labor—is hilarious and a pleasant opportunity to teach children about the nuances of words and their layers of meaning. The author’s adept use of genuine pirate terms—“swab the decks,” “pump the bilges” and “me hearties”—adds flavor and authenticity to the story, too. The captain and his crew sit down with a dictionary to figure out what “shiver me timbers” means, and then they take great delight upon using the phrase correctly; children will, too.

Roman charms with an imaginative, whimsical picture book that will entertain even the oldest pirates.

Pub Date: April 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615534657

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Michael/Okon

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath...

GREGORY AND THE GRIMBOCKLE

In this debut middle-grade novel, a lonely boy finds friendship and learns about the magic of human connection.

Defined by the large mole on his lip, 10-year-old Gregory has grown distant from his family. He is friendless and withdrawn. Then one night a strange little creature emerges from Gregory’s mole. It is riding a (quite lovable) cockroach and can change size. This is the Grimbockle. The Grimbockle—one of many Bockles, who, like Palmer Cox’s Brownies, live at the peripheries of human awareness—tends to the exoodles that bind people together. Exoodles are long, transparent, noodlelike threads and are usually invisible. Once Gregory has his eyeballs painted with Carrot Juicy, though, he can see them. He joins the Grimbockle and the roach, traveling the exoodles as if on a high-speed roller coaster. Exoodles wither and die when people don’t look after their relationships. The Grimbockle is trying to repair a particularly sickly exoodle that links a boy to his mother. Can Gregory help—and can he mend the exoodles in his own life? Schubert follows delightedly in the footsteps of Roald Dahl, opening her unfortunate young protagonist’s eyes to a previously unseen world both weird and wondrous (yet for all its outlandish magic, oddly logical). The scenario is one of riotous imagination, while the Grimbockle himself—brought sweetly to life in black-and-white illustrations by Kraft—is a sprightly and good-natured little person, full of the type of singsong infelicities found in Dahl’s beloved nonhuman characters: “Is you ever seeing glimpses of squiggles in the corners of your twinklers but then they is disappearing in a snippety blink?” “ ‘Exoodles!’ shouted the Grimbockle in triumph. ‘Sometimes, hoo-mans is getting so twisty and wound up in extra exoodles that they is feeling gloomy blue and heavy all day long.’ ” The story is perhaps too much of a parable to fully match Dahl’s template; the adventure is safer and the threats less dark. Nonetheless, readers should fall willingly and with thrilled abandon into the fizzy, fanciful world of Gregory and his Grimbockle friend.

A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath surface appearances.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9911109-3-3

Page Count: 153

Publisher: New Wrinkle Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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