As a manners book, hide your doubloons. But as a pirate book, it’s yo-ho-ho and away you go! (Picture book. 3-6)

ARE PIRATES POLITE?

Mutinous manners and piratical politeness are the name of the game in this swashbuckling story.

It might surprise readers to hear that pirates are the positive pinnacle of politeness, but it’s true! Twelve mannerly qualities are listed, with these mostly white pirates making the grade. As the book says from the start, “Pirates are unruly and pirates love to fight, / but pirates still say ‘please’ and ‘thanks’ ’cause pirates are polite.” And here’s the captain merrily handing over a crewmate’s molar after a scuffle. Other guidelines are checked off the list as well, including chewing with one’s mouth shut (particularly if it’s someone else’s food), always saying “thank you” (even when stealing booty), and using one’s inside voice (in the hold). Catrow lends his considerable talents to the tale, yet the result is strangely disjointed, leaving readers unsure if the book is serious or sarcastic. For example, readers are told not to barge into private situations, so the pirates leave the captain alone during his bubble bath, which seems literal enough. Yet earlier in the book, the verse on sharing is depicted with a lone pirate marooned with only a single coin from the latest haul—that’s sharing? Mind you, not all young pirate lovers will note these discrepancies. If it’s grotesque pirate misadventures they seek, this book delivers in spades.

As a manners book, hide your doubloons. But as a pirate book, it’s yo-ho-ho and away you go! (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-62874-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text.

KINDNESS GROWS

Rhyming verses about kindness using a consistent metaphor of widening cracks versus blooming plants are amplified by cutouts on each page.

The art and layout are spectacular, from the cover through the double-page spreads near the end. Racially diverse toddlers are shown engaging in various moods and behaviors, some of which create unhappiness and some of which lead to friendship and happiness. Every page’s color palette and composition perfectly complement the narrative. The initial verso shows two children in aggressive stances, backgrounded by a dark, partly moonlit sky. Between them is a slender, crooked cutout. The large-type text reads: “It all / starts / with a / crack / that we can hardly see. / It happens when we shout / or if we disagree.” The recto shows two children in sunlight, with one offering a pretty leaf to the other, and the rhyme addresses the good that grows from kindness. In this image, the crooked die cut forms the trunk of a tiny sapling. Until the final double-page spreads, the art follows this clever setup: dark deeds and a crack on the left, and good deeds and a growing tree on the right. Unfortunately, the text is far from the equal of the art: It is banal and preachy, and it does not even scan well without some effort on the part of whomever is reading it. Still, the youngest children will solemnly agree with the do’s and don’ts, and they may decide to memorize a page or two.

Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-229-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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