For a bare-bones retelling of the original’s plot, this has no equal. Just don’t expect any more than that.

MOBY DICK

CHASING THE GREAT WHITE WHALE

Melville’s classic gets a lush, if wildly oversimplified, retelling under its author’s generally sure hand.

Call him Ishmael. To rhyming verse, one lad’s adventures on the Pequod are retold in brief, generally accurate detail. Readers meet the harpooner Queequeg (ambiguous ethnicity and tattooed head intact), the obsessed Ahab (red eyes matching that of the titular whale’s) and the crew. Ahab challenges his men to spot the leviathan, and after much searching, they find it, marking the beginning of the end for the Pequod and its crew. Kimmel’s rhymes scan with clarity from the start, and he has a genius for synthesizing the loquacious storyline down to its plot essentials. A pity he chooses to end the retelling with the simplistic and wholly un-Melville-ian lesson, “The moral of this story is, / as my sad tale has shown: / Respect all creatures, great and small, / and leave the whales alone!” The high point of the title turns out to be Glass’ art. His oil-and-pencil illustrations create a white whale hide interlaced with the scars of countless harpooners, his sheer girth a towering mountain of angry flesh. Readers will have little difficulty understanding the awe inspired by such a creature.

For a bare-bones retelling of the original’s plot, this has no equal. Just don’t expect any more than that. (author’s note, glossary) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-66297-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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Dizzyingly silly.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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