Another strong installment in the Captain No Beard series despite quieter action and the obvious educational bend.


Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles


Captain No Beard and his loyal crew hit the high seas amid tears, change, and friendship in Roman’s (Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis, 2014) newest pirate picture book.

When their latest ocean trip commences, Captain No Beard can’t find his loyal mate Fribbet the Frog. A team search reveals he’s hiding on the ship, crying. When his shipmates ask what’s wrong, he says he’s scared. The crew then lists assorted things he could be afraid of—the dark, snakes, loud noises, etc.—and reassure him that it’s OK to be scared. The support of friends is endearing, and the illustration of Polly Parrot with her wings around Fribbet is particularly heartwarming. The discussion between Fribbet and his friends shows that for every fear a child can have, it’s likely that his or her friends share the same concern. Being brave enough to share those worries with your friends makes them less scary. When Fribbet begins to describe the appearance of eggs in his home—eggs that hatched to become tadpoles and, by now, little frogs—Captain No Beard realizes Fribbet is merely reacting to the unknown of becoming a big brother. Captain No Beard has a strong bond with his little sister, cabin girl Cayla, which he uses to help Fribbet understand that becoming a big brother isn’t all bad. In the end, a surprise twist brings closure to Fribbet’s situation, again reassuring children that the arrival of new siblings doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Roman’s gentle soothing of typical childhood fears is warm and nurturing, creating a softer feel than in some of the other Captain No Beard stories. There’s limited adventure here, since it’s more specifically targeted toward children facing the uncertainty of new siblings. Roman does, however, add some spice in a brief science lesson on the metamorphosis of tadpoles to frogs, and, as usual, her charming illustrations light up the page with their humanity, cleverness, and bright colors. Dialogue is in Roman’s typically pirate-rich lingo, clever and quick, but overall, the story feels less like a rollicking pirate book and more like a tool for child therapy featuring an important life lesson.

Another strong installment in the Captain No Beard series despite quieter action and the obvious educational bend.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1499145977

Page Count: 32

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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


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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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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