Cobb’s 14th book comes complete with pirates, mysterious messages and a magic ring.

While the highly coveted Ring of Hope has extraordinary powers (it can immediately transport its owner out of harm’s way if there’s imminent danger), it also imposes a tremendous burden because not only does the owner become a target of covetous bad guys, but so does his or her family. But the ring itself decides who can work its magic and it will only bond with someone it deems “worthy.” When Ardin Delham, the ring’s last owner, dies, his wife passes the ring on to Paul, the younger and kinder-hearted of her two sons, because unlike her eldest, Charles, she feels Paul can “handle the power and responsibility.” Fast-forward to Capt. Darfous Warner, who hires the dubious and sure-footed Antonio Trovol to deliver a bottle containing a secret message to Capt. Paul Delham. Antonio in turn hires his goofy nephew Marcus to help him with the job. Next up we meet Peter, a young boy who has a talking pet monkey named Monk and lives a double life; a quiet one with his family and the other life as second mate for Capt. Paul in a world with both good and evil pirates. As the story quickly bounces along, it also grows increasingly complex as more characters are introduced into the myriad of plots and subplots and more mysterious messages are added to the mix. Some younger readers will most likely find the story, with its ancillary characters, secret identities and story-within-a-story format, too complicated to hold their attention, but the book’s slapstick appeal might provide some compensation for the confusion. The characters are rich and beautifully rendered, and the story is sprinkled with humor. One character is a retired pirate ship surgeon who makes his living designing and making women’s shoes. Much of the dialogue—especially between Peter and Monk and Antonio and Marcus—is delightfully silly. An index of characters would greatly aid any reader. Charming, simple black-and-white line drawings head up each chapter. Complicated hijinks don’t quite sink this spirited swashbuckling tale of mystery and magic.  


Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615537436

Page Count: 274

Publisher: 10 to 2 Children's Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.


Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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