HECTOR SPRINGS LOOSE

Shreeve opens a Ready for Chapters series with this engaging tale of a bug forced into a horizon-expanding odyssey when his cozy burrow is taken over by a flea circus. Being a wumble-bug—“a home-loving creature you won’t find in any book, except for this one of course”—Hector is understandably miffed to be forced out of his digs. Stuffing a backpack with gum, a pocketknife, and other necessities, he departs, little suspecting the discomfort, not to mention outright danger, he’s about to face from a frantic mother hummingbird, a hungry bullfrog, and other residents of his bug-eat-bug world. The author keeps the tone light, though, tucking in tongue-in-cheek details—being six-legged, Hector can play a piano duet with himself—and bringing her wandering wumble-bug back, with mementos of his travels, to a home from which the fleas have departed as suddenly as they arrived. Levy’s sketchy, full-page scenes (not really seen) provide a bug’s-eye view of Hector, bumbling his way through one misadventure after another. Lighthearted, slightly challenging fare for easy reader graduates. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-86414-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2003

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This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment.

CAT DAD, KING OF THE GOBLINS

A pair of sisters and a froggy sidekick go up against a horde of fungal jungle dwellers in this frantically paced Canadian import.

When Mom transforms Dad into a cat, 10-year-old Luey, her leggy green friend, Phil, and little sister Miri chase him through a closet door and down a jungle path into a maze of tunnels. They manage to rescue their errant parent from the maroon-colored, cat-worshiping goblins that had overrun the garden. (They are not the “mythological” sort, explains Wilson, but sentient mushrooms dressed in towels.) The three put most of their pursuers to flight by rubbing Dad’s fur the wrong way to turn him into a raving, furry maniac (the rest flee at the closet door, screaming “IT’S THE MOM CREATURE! RETREAT!!”). Captured in multiple, sometimes overly small panels of garishly colored cartoon art, the action—not to mention the internal logic—is sometimes hard to follow. Still, dragging along their timorous but canny buddy, the dark-skinned, big-haired sisters dash into danger with commendable vim, and readers will cheer when they come out triumphant on the other side.

This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment. (afterword) (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927668-11-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Koyama Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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PIRATE HANDBOOK

A bland introduction to the pirate life manages to suck all the fun out of the subject. Likely to please only overprotective parents, this field guide tucks such provisions as, “The crew is your family, and you must look after them and love them,” into the Pirate Oath. It also claims that pirates “only steal from people who’ve got more than they really need,” and insists that male and female pirates “respect each other equally.” Similarly, though the watercolor illustrations are replete with hooks, peglegs, eye patches and like standard gear, many of the pirates on display sport inoffensive personae like “The Smiley Pirate,” “The Hunky Pirate” and even a grandmotherly “Pirate Captain’s Mum.” The translator lets a lookout shout “Land Ahoy!”—which only children who have never read another pirate book will accept. Production standards are equally careless, as a word is misspelled in the Pirate Vocabulary list (the “Pirat” flag), and there’s a blank space on the treasure map where a coded message is supposed to be. Shelve in Davy Jones' locker. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-84-937814-8-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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