LA PRIMERA

THE STORY OF WILD MUSTANGS

This book illustrates the song of the same name, written by acclaimed Canadian folk and country singer Tyson. La Primera—Spanish for “the first”—is the mythical foundation sire of the North American mustang, horses brought here by the Conquistadors and crucial to the lifestyles of both Native Americans and American cowboys. Halvorson’s oil paintings are breathtaking, nearly photographic in detail, while conveying emotional weight. They exist as a series of gorgeous images, though, not as a continuous visual narrative. The song, like most, doesn’t translate exactly into a story, so the through line falters without support from the art. With just a couple of lines per double-page spread, there’s not enough going on in each image to keep the eye lingering after the text is read, resulting in a light-speed read. The pacing of the recorded song (available for free download with an accompanying PIN), in contrast, is slow enough that readers will find their fingers itching to turn the page. A very pretty mismatch. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 10, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-88776-863-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure.

THE PIRATE PIG

It’s not truffles but doubloons that tickle this porcine wayfarer’s fancy.

Funke and Meyer make another foray into chapter-book fare after Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). Here, mariner Stout Sam and deckhand Pip eke out a comfortable existence on Butterfly Island ferrying cargo to and fro. Life is good, but it takes an unexpected turn when a barrel washes ashore containing a pig with a skull-and-crossbones pendant around her neck. It soon becomes clear that this little piggy, dubbed Julie, has the ability to sniff out treasure—lots of it—in the sea. The duo is pleased with her skills, but pride goeth before the hog. Stout Sam hands out some baubles to the local children, and his largess attracts the unwanted attention of Barracuda Bill and his nasty minions. Now they’ve pignapped Julie, and it’s up to the intrepid sailors to save the porker and their own bacon. The succinct word count meets the needs of kids looking for early adventure fare. The tale is slight, bouncy, and amusing, though Julie is never the piratical buccaneer the book’s cover seems to suggest. Meanwhile, Meyer’s cheery watercolors are as comfortable diagramming the different parts of a pirate vessel as they are rendering the dread pirate captain himself.

A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37544-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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