“Another game called on account of spaghetti.” Aarrrgh. Or conversely, yup, git along. Good fun, regardless of the dialect.

PIRATES AT THE PLATE

Cowboys and Pirates aren’t just team names in this brangle on the base paths.

With the “score knotted at 47 runs” each in the 22nd inning, Long John Silver uncorks a long fly to center: “The Cisco Kid’s gonna have to giddy-up if he wants to catch this ball!” Using scratchboard with oil glazes, Summers portrays melodramatically posed figures in lavishly detailed costuming. He even mounts both infielders and outfielders on charging horses and gives literal expression to such terms as “on deck” (ship’s deck, that is) and “bullpen.” It looks like the stage is set for a rousing, benches-clearing brawl after Silver’s attempt to steal second base and the ensuing exchange of insults (“Yer boys play like Barbies,” sneers the Pirates’ captain, Capt. Hook). Thankfully, a summons to dinner forces the lad who has been heretofore invisibly orchestrating it all to reluctantly abandon his suddenly tiny action figures.

“Another game called on account of spaghetti.” Aarrrgh. Or conversely, yup, git along. Good fun, regardless of the dialect. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-56846-210-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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A strong series start.

GAME OVER, SUPER RABBIT BOY!

From the Press Start! series , Vol. 1

In a video game, a superpowered rabbit must rescue a singing dog that brings everyone happiness.

In the frame story, a brown-skinned human protagonist plays a video game on a handheld console evocative of the classic Nintendo Gameboy. The bulk of the book relates the game’s storyline: Animal Town is a peaceful place where everyone is delighted by Singing Dog, until the fun-hating King Viking (whose black-mustachioed, pink-skinned looks reference the Super Mario Brothers game series villain, Wario) uses his army of robots to abduct Singing Dog. To save Singing Dog—and fun—the animals send the fastest among them, Simon the Hedgehog, to get Super Rabbit Boy (who gains speed and jumping powers by eating special carrots) to save the day. The chapters take Super Rabbit Boy through video game levels, with classic, video game–style settings and enemies. Throughout the book, when the game’s player loses either a life in the game or the game entirely, the unnamed kid must choose to persevere and not give up. The storylines are differentiated by colorful art styles—cartoonish for the real world, 8-bit pixel-sprite–style for the game. The fast, repetitive plot uses basic, simple sentences and child-friendly objects of interest, such as lakes of lava, for children working on reading independence, while the nerdy in-jokes benefit adults reading with a child.

A strong series start. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-03472-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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