A rich and resonant tall tale that celebrates imagination even as it underscores enduring truths.

A picture-book tall tale of derring-do from Newfoundland and Labrador that continues a centuries-old tradition of recitation.

Brothers Kimmy and Mike are charged by their mother to take their punt to fish for “something for the pot!” But no fish are to be had at their usual spot, and the boys decide to “scull ’er…’cross the pond”—not wishing to face their mother’s admonishment. As the rhyming tall tale continues gleefully, the brothers encounter a merman called Saul who longs for Nepal, tackle pirates off the coast of Somalia (depicted as old-fashioned European ones), and dig their way through the Panama Canal (“We are closed; please come back again”), among many other adventures. The story, which must be read aloud for full effect, continues a tradition that began in the isolated fishing communities of Newfoundland and Labrador, as an afterword notes, when the scant leisure time was often spent making up stories to entertain family and neighbors. While the physical reality of the tale is one of happy exaggeration, the emotional reality—two tough boys abashed by their more-than-capable mother—is an endearing truth. The illustrations have a folk-art look, which both complements and compliments the recitation tradition, and, in the way of outsider art, have the knack of looking simple while actually being visually sophisticated. The merman has brown skin and orange hair while Kimmy, Mike, and their mom present White.

A rich and resonant tall tale that celebrates imagination even as it underscores enduring truths. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-927917-39-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Running the Goat

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021


From the How To Catch… series

Only for dedicated fans of the series.

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017


A feel-good tale of a clever and determined stallion set against a well-developed landscape.

In mid-19th-century Nevada, a colt named Sky grows up to lead his band of wild horses.

Parry’s moving story follows the pattern of her recent animal tales, A Wolf Called Wander (2019) and A Whale of the Wild (2020), chronicling a wild animal’s life in the first person, imagining its point of view, and detailing and appreciating the natural world it inhabits. As Sky grows from wobbly newborn to leader of his family, he faces more than the usual challenges for colts who must fight their stallions or leave their herds when they are grown up. Fagan’s appealing black-and-white illustrations help readers envision this survival story. Sky’s adventures include forced service with the Pony Express; being befriended by an enslaved Paiute boy; escaping to find his now-captured band; and helping them escape the silver miners who’d destroyed their world. Animal lovers will applaud his ingenuity and stubbornness. Although Sky’s band has suffered serious injuries (his mother is blind), he and Storm, a mare who was his childhood companion, lead them toward safety in a new wilderness. The writer’s admiration for these wild horses and her concerns about human destruction of their environment come through even more clearly in a series of concluding expository essays discussing the wild horses, the Indigenous Americans, the natural history of the Great Basin, silver mining, and the Pony Express.

A feel-good tale of a clever and determined stallion set against a well-developed landscape. (author’s note, resources) (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2023

ISBN: 9780062995957

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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