Yo ho ho and a bottle of sun screen.



From the Jolley-Rogers series

In her latest outing, clever young Matilda leaves Dull-on-Sea for a pirates-only theme park and joins the hunt for Mad Jack McMuddle’s long-buried treasure (The Pirates Next Door, 2012, etc.).

In illustrations that are positively awash with classic piratical gear and nautical detail, Matilda joins her friend Jim Lad and his buccaneer family, the Jolley-Rogers, aboard the Blackhole for a voyage to aptly named Scurvy Sands. Her welcome there is decidedly mixed (“My monkey can’t find any lice, / but says her hair smells very nice!”), though, until she passes the “pirate test” by gathering clues left by Mad Jack to dig up, as revealed in a climactic double gatefold, a veritable mountain of glittering loot. If the plotline and sometimes-ungainly rhymes aren’t going to shiver any timbers, all the skulls, crossbones, fancy hats and coats, eye patches, carved peg legs, sashes, unkempt hair and beards, tattoos, and snaggly teeth on display will rouse mighty cheers from pirate fans of any stripe. Duddle even adds an aerial map of the ramshackle rides and restaurants. Home Matilda sails at the end…but even though she “really couldn’t wait to be / landlubbing back in Dull-On-Sea,” further rousing sea adventures doubtless await. Matilda and the Jolley-Rogers present white; one young guest and flamboyant official greeter Cap’n Ollie Day are the only people of color in sight on the beaches and boardwalks.

Yo ho ho and a bottle of sun screen. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9293-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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