THE LAST CASTAWAYS

Although pushed into retirement by old age, Grandfather and his constant canine companion Roo quickly find themselves thrust back into action onboard the ominously named Unsinkable, in search of the mythical King Cod. Written as a series of short letters to his gender-neutral grandchild and as the Unsinkable’s ship log, Grandfather again finds himself suffering from a bout of bad luck compounded by Roo and her finicky ways, which seem to change with the wind. It isn’t long before the Unsinkable gives the lie to its name and the adventurers find themselves in the titular bind. Black-and-white illustrations are sprinkled throughout, with short quirky annotations from Grandfather that add even more humor and depth to this zany adventure. Packed with silly hijinks and fantastical creatures, this last of the Lasts (The Last Cowboys, 2008, etc.), with its endearing duo of grandfather and Roo, delivers fun for readers new to chapter books. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-56145-439-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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DORY STORY

Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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THE COOKIE-STORE CAT

There is an ineffable sweetness in Rylant’s work, which skirts the edge of sentimentality but rarely tumbles, saved by her simple artistry. This companion piece to The Bookshop Dog (1996) relates how the cookie-store cat was found, a tiny, skinny kitten, very early one day as the bakers came in to work. The cat gets morning kisses, when the bakers tell him that he is “sweeter than any cookie” and “prettier than marzipan.” Then he makes his rounds, out the screen door painted with “cherry drops and gingerbread men” to visit the fish-shop owner, the yarn lady, and the bookshop, where Martha Jane makes a cameo appearance. Back at the cookie store, the cat listens to Father Eugene, who eats his three Scotch chewies and tells about the new baby in the parish, and sits with the children and their bags of cookies. At Christmas he wears a bell and a red ribbon, and all the children get free Santa cookies. The cheerful illustrations are done in paint as thick as frosting; the flattened shapes and figures are a bit cookie-shaped themselves. A few recipes are included in this yummy, comforting book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-54329-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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