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


From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017


From the Who's in Your Book? series

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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