“To shanghai” and “charming” don’t usually go together, but here they do.

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JOLLY REGINA

From the Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters series , Vol. 1

When two dull-as-dishwater sisters suddenly find themselves working for female pirates, their days of boredom come sadly to an end.

Jaundice and Kale Bland haven’t seen their parents in years, but that’s OK. They’ve kept to themselves and have a lucrative business darning socks. Life is boring, and that’s fine with them. That is, until a pirate named Deadeye Delilah kidnaps the two and forces them into working for her all-women crew on the high seas. Delilah’s in search of a particular cache of treasure, and she’s convinced the girls hold the secret to its recovery. Together the two must use their limited skills to escape certain death and find out what happened to their parents so long ago. There’s a smidgen of Snicket in the works here, but only a pinch. Generally LaReau serves her humor dry, adding some serious swashbuckling for good measure. Sailing right over children’s heads will be jokes like the search for Capt. Ann Tennille, the all-male rival pirate ship the Testostero, or the tattooed pirate Princess Kwee-Kweg. Meanwhile Hill’s pen-and-ink cartoons give the book precisely the right strange and silly tone to help sustain what easily could have become a one-joke wonder. She gives Jaundice and Kale slightly darker skin than Deadeye Delilah, whose crew is a multiethnic one.

“To shanghai” and “charming” don’t usually go together, but here they do. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2136-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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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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This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment.

CAT DAD, KING OF THE GOBLINS

A pair of sisters and a froggy sidekick go up against a horde of fungal jungle dwellers in this frantically paced Canadian import.

When Mom transforms Dad into a cat, 10-year-old Luey, her leggy green friend, Phil, and little sister Miri chase him through a closet door and down a jungle path into a maze of tunnels. They manage to rescue their errant parent from the maroon-colored, cat-worshiping goblins that had overrun the garden. (They are not the “mythological” sort, explains Wilson, but sentient mushrooms dressed in towels.) The three put most of their pursuers to flight by rubbing Dad’s fur the wrong way to turn him into a raving, furry maniac (the rest flee at the closet door, screaming “IT’S THE MOM CREATURE! RETREAT!!”). Captured in multiple, sometimes overly small panels of garishly colored cartoon art, the action—not to mention the internal logic—is sometimes hard to follow. Still, dragging along their timorous but canny buddy, the dark-skinned, big-haired sisters dash into danger with commendable vim, and readers will cheer when they come out triumphant on the other side.

This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment. (afterword) (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927668-11-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Koyama Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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