ROBIN HOOK, PIRATE HUNTER!

What do you get when you mix Robin Hood with Peter Pan, and throw in a dash of The Lord of the Flies? You get a new, original, tall tale from folkmeister Kimmel (Gershon’s Monster: A Story for the Jewish New Year, 2000, etc.). Found as an infant cradled in the arms of a giant octopus, Robin is raised to be a pirate by the notorious James Hook. The passage of years proves that Robin is just too nice to be a pirate, and he is cast away on a desert island, where he learns the language of the animals and takes charge of a group of similarly marooned children. In their trusty craft, the Sandpiper, and aided by the birds and animals, they crusade to thwart the region’s pirates. While some of the individual conceits work nicely—the children “put itching powder in Blackbeard’s beard, and they erased the ‘X’ on Captain Flint’s treasure map so that he would never find the buried treasure”—the text never overcomes one of the basic problems inherent in so many pirate stories: the pirates are simply more interesting than Robin, who comes across as something of a namby-pamby. Dooling’s (The Amazing Life of Benjamin Franklin, p. 119, etc.) capable oils fall victim to this syndrome as well, reveling in depictions of pirates in all their roguery but giving short shrift to the goody-goody Robin. (Young mariners will also wonder how the Sandpiper, which seems to be constructed of seaweed and sticks, manages to stay afloat.) There’s lots of mischief and fun here, but its hero simply can’t measure up to its villains. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-590-68199-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How to Catch… 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 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out?

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THE PRINCESS IN BLACK

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 1

Perfect Princess Magnolia has a secret—her alter ego is the Princess in Black, a superhero figure who protects the kingdom!

When nosy Duchess Wigtower unexpectedly drops by Princess Magnolia’s castle, Magnolia must protect her secret identity from the duchess’s prying. But then Magnolia’s monster alarm, a glitter-stone ring, goes off. She must save the day, leaving the duchess unattended in her castle. After a costume change, the Princess in Black joins her steed, Blacky (public identity: Frimplepants the unicorn), to protect Duff the goat boy and his goats from a shaggy, blue, goat-eating monster. When the monster refuses to see reason, Magnolia fights him, using special moves like the “Sparkle Slam” and the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Smash.” The rounded, cartoony illustrations featuring chubby characters keep the fight sequence soft and comical. Watching the fight, Duff notices suspicious similarities between the Princess in Black and Magnolia—quickly dismissed as “a silly idea”—much like the duchess’s dismissal of some discovered black stockings as being simply dirty, as “princesses don’t wear black.” The gently ironic text will amuse readers (including adults reading the book aloud). The large print and illustrations expand the book to a longish-yet-manageable length, giving newly independent readers a sense of accomplishment. The ending hints at another hero, the Goat Avenger.

Action, clever humor, delightful illustrations and expectation-defying secret identities—when does the next one come out? (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6510-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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