A funny read-aloud with (mostly) chuckle-inducing illustrations.

READ REVIEW

GINNY GOBLIN IS NOT ALLOWED TO OPEN THIS BOX

She may not be allowed to, but the eponymous green-skinned, overalls-clad monster thinks of many magnificent, creative ways to open that box before dinnertime.

Ginny’s large head sports huge, white eyes with long, dark lashes, a cheerful, two-fanged grin, and two pointy ears—one of which is torn. In other words, she is undoubtedly a nonharmful sort of goblin. After the text makes it clear that Ginny is not allowed to open the box until dinnertime—but “she really wants to know what’s inside”—it asks, “What if we put the box way up on a shelf?” Next, readers learn the many (often absurdly hypothetical) things that Ginny Goblin is not allowed to do in order to reach the box, including using a rope and a grappling hook or building a catapult or poking at “scaly, scary serpents” in a “murky moat.” Needing to wait until dinnertime strikes a familiar chord with this age group and becomes an appropriate refrain. Lighthearted, cartoony artwork mostly supports the text’s tongue-in-cheek tone, leading to laughs about the outlandish suggestions. However, slapstick images of Ginny’s body slamming against a stone tower and, later, Ginny clobbering serpents may strike many as unnecessarily violent. Suspense builds when Ginny temporarily turns her attention away from opening the box. The closure of knowing what’s inside is supplemented by a punchline well understood by children who have been given boundaries by adults.

A funny read-aloud with (mostly) chuckle-inducing illustrations. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-76415-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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Arrrrguably the best piratical dogfight you’ll ever sink your teeth into.

BAD PIRATE

Wicked smart pacing and playful art tell the tale of a pirate too doggone loyal for her own good.

Capt. Barnacle Garrick may be the scurviest cur (literally—he’s a springer spaniel) to sail the seven seas, but his blue-eyed daughter Augusta is kind, considerate, and caring. In short, she’s a very bad pirate indeed. Disgusted—she’s more inclined to tuck her bunkmates in than to commit basic forms of piracy—her father admonishes her to “be saucy…bold….But most important, me sea pup, yez gots to be SELFISH!” Augusta tries by purloining a fellow shipmate’s peg leg, but when a squall and a torn mainsail mean almost certain sinking, the feisty sea pup teaches her father and his crew that sometimes it pays to be saucy, bold, and selfless. In a story so packed with piratical jargon and growls that even the most staid and sorry landlubbers will become salty dogs while reading it, it’s Griffiths’ art that takes the wave-swept narrative to another level. Augusta’s charm goes far, and each breed of canine is rendered with a loving hand. Even more delightful are the tiny details. From Augusta’s surreptitious carving of a new peg leg to Garrick’s battles with uniformed mice in an early vignette, young readers will see something new with each turn of the page.

Arrrrguably the best piratical dogfight you’ll ever sink your teeth into. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-9274-8571-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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