PRINCE AND PIRATE

A watery odd couple perfect for potential royals and scurvy curs alike.

Two pet fish duke it out, scale to scale.

Prince, an entitled goldfish, and Pirate, a fish of a decidedly naughty nature, are content as can be within their own little bowls. Then along comes the terrible day when they find themselves sharing a single tank. Prince considers Pirate to be a downright “cheeky cod,” while Pirate can’t stand sharing space with this “worm-eaten peg leg.” Taking a cue from classic movies and sitcoms of yore, they make a line down the tank’s center constructed from white pebbles. But when a cute little dogfish enters their domain (complete with doghouse), they both realize the only way to win its trust is to come to terms with each other. While both the impetus for bringing these two mortal enemies together and the final denouement fail to ring completely true, there’s no denying that the book is a godsend to pirate-themed storytimes nationwide. Gunnufson delights in language, both Prince’s high-falutin’ royal speak and Pirate’s down-and-dirty buccaneer-inflected growl. Lowery, meanwhile, endows his flippered foes with enough humor and heart to sink an ocean liner. Such jokes as Pirate’s surreptitious lift of his eye patch to better view Prince will not go unnoticed.

A watery odd couple perfect for potential royals and scurvy curs alike. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-17604-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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THE WONKY DONKEY

Hee haw.

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2018

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