OCEAN STAR EXPRESS

Joe and his mum and dad are vacationing at the Ocean Star Hotel. At first the weather is perfect; Joe gets to learn to swim and visit the boardwalk. The sixth day dawns foggy and rainy and Joe, who looks to be about five, quickly becomes bored. The hotel’s owner, Mr. Robertson, offers Joe a trip around the world. After expressing disbelief, Joe follows Mr. Robertson up to the attic and enters the world of the Ocean Star Express. Mr. Robertson’s miniature train set travels from room to room in the attic, and each new room is a different environment: snow-capped mountains, camel-filled deserts, lighthouse by the sea. They paint a figurine to look like Joe and then place it on the train. When they go downstairs, the rain has stopped. Even after the vacation is over, Joe rides the Ocean Star Express in his dreams. Haddon has created a sweet and simple story that young train enthusiasts will enjoy. They will likely identify with Joe and get into the illustrations of the Express in its many different rooms. However, the text may be too long and lack the pep some of the youngest train lovers demand. Sutton’s illustrations are similar to Christian Birmingham’s from Haddon’s Sea of Tranquility (1996). They are soft, almost nostalgic, but realistic and some feature a giant-seeming Joe behind the scenery. Purchase multiple copies if you’ve got demand—the paperback binding is strong, but won’t hold up like a hardcover. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2003

ISBN: 0-00-664600-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins UK/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice.

LITTLE JOE CHICKAPIG

Is it a book about aspirations or the backstory for the board game?

Chickapig is defined as “an animal hybrid that is half-chicken and half-pig” and is depicted in yellow, two-legged chick shape with pink pig snout and ears. Young Joe Chickapig lives on a farm that was his grandfather’s dream, but it’s getting Joe down. He dreams of adventure but needs the “courage to follow his heart. / But how could he do it? How could he start?” In a bedtime story, Joe’s mother shares the influential characters that helped Joe’s sailor grandfather “follow his heart against the tide.” It seems that “Grandpa had heard a story told / Of a great big bear who broke the mold. / The bear was tired of striking fear”—so he became a forest doctor and a friend to all. And the bear’s inspiration? “A mouse who went to space.” The mouse, in turn, found hope in a “fierce young dragon” who joined a rock band. And coming full circle, the dragon found courage from a Chickapig warrior who “tired of shields and swords to wield” and established a farm. Chickapig game fans will appreciate this fanciful rhyming tale illustrated in attention-grabbing colors, but readers coming to it cold will note a distinct absence of plot. Mouse and dragon present female; all others are male.

Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7944-4452-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Printers Row

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Another breezy sail past things that go.

EVERYTHING GOES: BY SEA

B

From the Everything Goes series

Biggs ferries young viewers past floating fleets in his latest set of bustling cartoon surveys.

The voyage is sandwiched between sequences of big, wordless before and after panels. It begins when a vacationing family drives aboard a Center City ferry. After casting off, it navigates past themed gatherings of working boats and gigantic ships; craft of various sizes and historical periods driven by oars, motors or sails; houseboats and more. It docks in the wake of a climactic double gatefold in an entire harbor full of diverse vessels. Along the way, minidisquisitions on sails and propellers, cargo shipping, submarines, cruise ships and other nautical topics are delivered with plenty of sight gags and side business. Signal flags spell out “fish fry tonight,” and a fishing boat dubbed Archimedes demonstrates buoyancy and displacement, for instance. Biggs adds cutaway views as well as labels, jokes (“How long do you think the trip will take?” “About fifty-six pages”), review questions and occasional selfies to his full but not overstuffed scenes.

Another breezy sail past things that go. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-195811-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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