AZAD'S CAMEL

A kidnapped orphan races away to freedom. In an Arabian village, a little boy named Azad, who lives with his poor elderly uncle, fetches water for tea and tends to the goat before running off to play with his friends. His gymnastics skills attract the attention of a sheikh, who offers to train the boy as a camel rider. Whisked to the desert to live with a bunch of other boys, Azad competes in dangerous races and suffers brutal discipline. He and his camel Asfur become inseparable; one day, they win a race and keep going, until the men who have oppressed them are far in the distance. Boy and camel sleep curled up together under the desert moon and awake to the smiling faces of a group of Bedouins; Azad and Asfur have found a home at last. Pal's striking illustrations in watercolor and ink position sharply delineated characters in the foreground against soft, blurry desert backgrounds. Her heart-tugging tale also folds in a succinct social-studies lesson, and a brief afterword explains the controversial "sport" of camel racing. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84507-982-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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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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