Plenty of humor, along with the intrepid kitty, keeps things sailing.


From the Atticus Claw series , Vol. 4

The second U.S. release of the British Atticus Claw series finds Atticus outwitting pirates at sea.

This installment takes place after two earlier books not yet published in the U.S. but contains enough back story that readers will have little trouble following the series. Atticus has settled in happily with the Cheddar family and enjoys his new job as a community police cat. A message in a bottle (found by a kitten during a beach cleanup) hints at a long-lost magical mermaid who can grant any wish. This may prove useful when the terrible pirate Capt. Black Beard-Jumper (a mysterious term never explained to the U.S. audience) inflicts a terrible death curse on Inspector Cheddar. Only the mermaid can lift the curse, so they must race against the dreadful pirate captain, who has joined forces with the nasty trio of magpies from Atticus Claw Breaks the Law (2016), to find her in time. The Cheddar family and Atticus join their friend Mr. Tucker, a former pirate himself, on a voyage to find the mermaid. Of course, things go awry, and it looks as though Inspector Cheddar has had it, but readers will not be surprised that Atticus finds a way to win. Gray keeps the story mostly light, although a story about drowning kittens adds a dark note. The principal humans appear to be white.

Plenty of humor, along with the intrepid kitty, keeps things sailing. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-571-30531-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Quirky and imaginative—postmodern storytelling at its best.


Friendly curiosity and a gift for naming earn a polar bear an assortment of (mostly animal) friends, adventures, mishaps, and discoveries.

Arriving at a northern ocean, Duane spies a shipwreck. Swimming out to investigate, he meets its lone occupant, C.C., a learned snowy owl whose noble goal is acquiring knowledge to apply “toward the benefit of all.” Informing Duane that he’s a polar bear, she points out a nearby cave that might suit him—it even has a mattress. Adding furnishings from the wreck—the grandfather clock’s handless, but who needs to tell time when it’s always now?—he meets a self-involved musk ox, entranced by his own reflection, who’s delighted when Duane names him “Handsome.” As he comes to understand, then appreciate their considerable diversity, Duane brings out the best in his new friends. C.C., who has difficulty reading emotions and dislikes being touched, evokes the autism spectrum. Magic, a bouncy, impulsive arctic fox, manifests ADHD. Major Puff, whose proud puffin ancestry involves courageous retreats from danger, finds a perfect companion in Twitch, a risk-aware, common-sensical hare. As illustrated, Sun Girl, a human child, appears vaguely Native, and Squint, a painter, white, but they’re sui generis: The Canadian author avoids referencing human culture. The art conveys warmth in an icy setting; animal characters suggest beloved stuffed toys, gently reinforcing the message that friendship founded on tolerance breeds comfort and safety.

Quirky and imaginative—postmodern storytelling at its best. (Animal fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3341-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The whimsy is slight—the story is not—and both its interest and its vocabulary are for the youngest members of this age...


Beverly Cleary has written all kinds of books (the most successful ones about the irrepressible Henry Huggins) but this is her first fantasy.

Actually it's plain clothes fantasy grounded in the everyday—except for the original conceit of a mouse who can talk and ride a motorcycle. A toy motorcycle, which belongs to Keith, a youngster, who comes to the hotel where Ralph lives with his family; Ralph and Keith become friends, Keith gives him a peanut butter sandwich, but finally Ralph loses the motorcycle—it goes out with the dirty linen. Both feel dreadfully; it was their favorite toy; but after Keith gets sick, and Ralph manages to find an aspirin for him in a nearby room, and the motorcycle is returned, it is left with Ralph....

The whimsy is slight—the story is not—and both its interest and its vocabulary are for the youngest members of this age group. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 1965

ISBN: 0380709244

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1965

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet