A paean to grouchy Guses everywhere presented with pouty piratical aplomb.

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THE GRUMPY PIRATE

It is a glorious thing to be a pirate grump.

Part of the appeal of pirates, many might feel, is that even as they’re robbing and pillaging and performing acts of mayhem, they’re upbeat about it. Not Gus. From the moment he steps aboard a seaworthy vessel with his fellow crew members, Gus cannot keep from grumping and grouching. His gripes and grouses and general whining begin the moment he wakes up and continue through every last one of his chores. His mates, all generally good-natured, finally turn to their Pirate Queen (brown-skinned and bedecked in a Prince-worthy array of purple) for help. The queen, in turn, hands Gus a parrot that will imitate his every word and syllable. Learning ensues. The gentle, rhyming text doesn’t try for anything too complicated, and the same could be said for the book itself. The art is cartoony and appealing. It won’t take much searching for kids to recognize themselves (or their siblings) in Gus’ general poutiness (and a picture of him moaning while lying sprawled on the deck is sure to trigger many memories). While Gus presents white, the crew is multiracial and includes a child with a prosthetic leg and a crab with a hook.

A paean to grouchy Guses everywhere presented with pouty piratical aplomb. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-22297-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice.

LITTLE JOE CHICKAPIG

Is it a book about aspirations or the backstory for the board game?

Chickapig is defined as “an animal hybrid that is half-chicken and half-pig” and is depicted in yellow, two-legged chick shape with pink pig snout and ears. Young Joe Chickapig lives on a farm that was his grandfather’s dream, but it’s getting Joe down. He dreams of adventure but needs the “courage to follow his heart. / But how could he do it? How could he start?” In a bedtime story, Joe’s mother shares the influential characters that helped Joe’s sailor grandfather “follow his heart against the tide.” It seems that “Grandpa had heard a story told / Of a great big bear who broke the mold. / The bear was tired of striking fear”—so he became a forest doctor and a friend to all. And the bear’s inspiration? “A mouse who went to space.” The mouse, in turn, found hope in a “fierce young dragon” who joined a rock band. And coming full circle, the dragon found courage from a Chickapig warrior who “tired of shields and swords to wield” and established a farm. Chickapig game fans will appreciate this fanciful rhyming tale illustrated in attention-grabbing colors, but readers coming to it cold will note a distinct absence of plot. Mouse and dragon present female; all others are male.

Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7944-4452-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Printers Row

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A valuable asset to the library of a child who experiences anxiety and a great book to get children talking about their...

RUBY FINDS A WORRY

Ruby is an adventurous and happy child until the day she discovers a Worry.

Ruby barely sees the Worry—depicted as a blob of yellow with a frowny unibrow—at first, but as it hovers, the more she notices it and the larger it grows. The longer Ruby is affected by this Worry, the fewer colors appear on the page. Though she tries not to pay attention to the Worry, which no one else can see, ignoring it prevents her from enjoying the things that she once loved. Her constant anxiety about the Worry causes the bright yellow blob to crowd Ruby’s everyday life, which by this point is nearly all washes of gray and white. But at the playground, Ruby sees a boy sitting on a bench with a growing sky-blue Worry of his own. When she invites the boy to talk, his Worry begins to shrink—and when Ruby talks about her own Worry, it also grows smaller. By the book’s conclusion, Ruby learns to control her Worry by talking about what worries her, a priceless lesson for any child—or adult—conveyed in a beautifully child-friendly manner. Ruby presents black, with hair in cornrows and two big afro-puff pigtails, while the boy has pale skin and spiky black hair.

A valuable asset to the library of a child who experiences anxiety and a great book to get children talking about their feelings . (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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