More amiably subversive, anarchic fun.


When the Bold family (hyenas living incognito as London suburbanites) and friends head to the seaside on holiday, with Bobby disguised as family dog “Stinky,” nothing goes as planned.

The deceit begins when an encounter with a school bully leaves Bobby with a sprained leg. Certain that a doctor would see through his disguise, his parents follow ursine neighbor Mr. McNumpty’s suggestion and take Bobby to a veterinarian instead, overcoming Bobby’s reluctance by letting him choose his name. Still healing, Stinky remains in disguise on the Cornish coast. Meanwhile, the vacation must go on: A sand castle is built, then destroyed; Uncle Tony and Miranda the marmoset prove surprisingly adept at surfing (why is revealed later). Jealous of Bobby’s freedom to express his hyena nature, his twin, Betty, teases him, but when he disappears, she’s as worried as their parents. New friends Pamela, a short-winded puffin (she used to smoke), and dolphins Galileo and his chums don’t hide their animal natures; Bertha, owner of Tiddles Tea Shop, is a cougar. Disguised or not, each assists in the hunt for Bobby. The series’ best illustrations thus far take full advantage of the maritime setting and depict human characters as racially diverse. The genially intrusive narrator throws in a little suspense and points the occasional moral. The Bolds don’t just tolerate difference, they embrace it. Mr. Bold’s ubiquitous, cheerily horrible Christmas-cracker puns should amuse young riddle aficionados along with a few limericks (the sort found in your classier crackers).

More amiably subversive, anarchic fun. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-0044-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.


After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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


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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