A heartfelt but lukewarm attempt at re-creating a slice of island life.



An inquisitive and adventurous young girl named Flossie spends a day with the beloved Bonefish Joe to see why so many people travel to Harbour Island from all over just to go fishing with him.

Harbour Island is a small settlement in the Bahamas known for bonefishing: a catch-and-release sport with the silvery bonefish as its object. Screwing up her courage, Flossie approaches Bonefish Joe to ask him to take her fishing. Laughing, he tells Flossie that she needs her mother’s permission. Though she’s initially told no, Flossie is happily surprised when her mother later changes her mind in a contrived and inexplicable turnabout. Flossie eagerly goes on this adventure and finally understands why an outing with Bonefish Joe is such a sought-after experience: “Bonefish Joe took you by the hand and brought you to a peaceful and quiet place.” Although the author’s affection for Bonefish Joe, a real Bahamian fisherman, and for Harbour Island is clear, the story never gets under Flossie’s skin. Her ignorance of the economic realities of fishing tourism and of Bonefish Joe’s particular expertise make her feel like an outsider in her own community, an unsettling feeling that perhaps contributes to the narrative’s feeling of disconnectedness. Though filled with light, the illustrations do but a lackluster job of capturing the sparkling sights described by the text and life on Harbour Island in general.

A heartfelt but lukewarm attempt at re-creating a slice of island life. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-56792-534-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Godine

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.


If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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A high-spirited impetus to clap hands—or better yet, someone else’s.


The Dragons Love Tacos (2012) crew invites readers to the 75th Annual High Five Tournament.

It’s not going to be a walkover, as opponents in the five rounds range from Gigantic the Bear (“700 Pounds of Hair”) and, after her, dizzying bouncer Kangaroo Paul to the ultimate challenger, eight-limbed Octopus Jones. Fortunately, young contenders have a yetilike ex-champ in their corner to offer vigorous if unevenly rhymed and metered commentary (“Was that your new signature slap? / My grandma fives better than that!”) as well as savvy advice on hand positioning and style points. Accentuated by block letters in diverse hues and the occasional outsized “HIGH FIVE!” Salmieri’s scribbly ink-and–colored-pencil drawings of the all-animal cast, audience, and panel of judges reflect the infectiously rising suspense and wild excitement as the unseen “Kid” the narrator addresses sends each foe in succession reeling away in stunned defeat. Just one thing left to do: “Hold up your trophy / and shout out ‘woo-hoo!’ / The new high five champ is you!” Along with the verbal coaching, a chart of variations on “The Classic,” such as “The Windmill,” “The Double Behind the Back Slam,” and even “The High Foot,” offers further challenges to ambitious fivers of all genders. As characters frequently address “Kid” directly and hold up dramatically foreshortened hands or paws to viewers, caregivers should be ready for this book to take a beating.

A high-spirited impetus to clap hands—or better yet, someone else’s. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-42889-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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