Prehistoric pirates are always worth a play, as is the peaceable theme, but such amateurish writing merits only the old...

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PIRASAURS!

A small dinosaur earns the respect of a scaly crew of dino-pirates with a clever bit of conflict resolution.

Slack’s pictures are busy with glowering, crocodile-toothed dinos of diverse hue in full piratical regalia, and it’s a good thing, as they add much-needed wind to the sails of Funk’s lubberly, exclamation-mark–laden verse: “With lots to learn, / I’ve got to earn / The crew’s respect and trust,” the would-be swabbie confides. “I’ll rise in rank or / Walk the plank… / I hope I can adjust!” Frantic efforts to do any shipboard task competently fail—sometimes in ways that serve meter and rhyme over actual sense: “I scrub and brush in such a rush / She throws me overboard!” Still, when half of a torn treasure map leads to an island dust-up with a rival crew of pirasaurs clutching the other half, a suggestion to share map and loot makes his “dream to join the team” come true at last: “This crew and I are linked. / With gems, doubloons, and silver spoons / We’ll never go extinct!”

Prehistoric pirates are always worth a play, as is the peaceable theme, but such amateurish writing merits only the old heave-ho. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-75049-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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Returning fans will be happy to see their friends, but this outing's unlikely to win them new ones.

BOA CONSTRUCTOR

From the The Binder of Doom series , Vol. 2

In the second installment of the Binder of Doom series, readers will reconnect with Alexander Bopp, who leads the Super Secret Monster Patrol, a group of mutant children who protect the citizens of their beloved town of Stermont.

His friends Nikki and Rip rejoin him to add new monsters and adventures to their ever growing binder of monsters. As in series opener Brute-Cake (2019), Alexander and his friends attend the local library’s summer program, this time for “maker-camp.” They are assigned a Maker Challenge, in which each camper is to “make a machine that performs a helpful task”; meanwhile, mechanical equipment is being stolen all over Stermont. Unfortunately, the pacing and focus of the book hop all over the place. The titular boa constructor (a two-headed maker-minded snake and the culprit behind the thefts) is but one of many monsters introduced here, appearing more than two-thirds of the way through the story—just after the Machine Share-Time concludes the maker-camp plotline. (Rip’s “most dangerous” invention does come in handy at the climax.) The grayscale illustrations add visuals that will keep early readers engaged despite the erratic storyline; they depict Alexander with dark skin and puffy hair and Nikki and Rip with light skin. Monster trading cards are interleaved with the story.

Returning fans will be happy to see their friends, but this outing's unlikely to win them new ones. (Paranormal adventure. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31469-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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More sentimental even than Staake’s earlier My Pet Book (2014), but the shiny metaphor is well-intentioned and the nod to...

THE BOOK OF GOLD

A lifelong quest slowly transforms a stolidly incurious Brooklyn lad into an educated, well-traveled geezer.

A dedicated nonreader, young Isaac Gutenberg turns up his nose at the tantalizing facts his book-loving parents dangle before him until a mysterious little old lady tells him about a legendary volume that not only contains the answers to every question ever asked, but when opened “turns to solid gold.” As years pass and Isaac eagerly riffles through every book he finds, his unalloyed greed changes to curiosity: “Why don’t the pyramids have windows?” “Who invented pizza?” “How did the number eight get its name?” After scouring the world’s book shelves, he ultimately comes to realize that the search itself has given him “a long life filled with wonder.” Bronze-toned, retro-style views of New York, India, and other locales are bookended between 1935 and present-day visits to idealized but recognizable versions of the New York Public Library’s Main Reading Room. There (in an act that would in real life get him ejected if not arrested), old Isaac sidles up to an unattended young patron to pass on the glittering legend. Isaac and most of the other figures are white, but Staake diversifies the skin tones of street crowds and readers in the overseas and later scenes.

More sentimental even than Staake’s earlier My Pet Book (2014), but the shiny metaphor is well-intentioned and the nod to libraries is well-taken. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-51077-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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