GHOST SHIP

The prolific author of adult novels turns her hand to children’s literature with a ghostly picture-book story. Young Thomas loves to indulge in his daydreams about sailing history while at his grandmother’s in Cape Cod. One day, while scanning the beach for interesting objects, he spots what turns out to be an old belt buckle. Suddenly, an opaque boy who looks much like Thomas appears—Silas, who is from the early colonial history of Massachusetts, is the owner of the belt buckle. In this wordy story, he tells of an attempt by dishonest locals to wreck and scavenge from a ship via false lights, and how he and his friends were able to stop the attempted murder of Thomas’s ancestor Captain Hallett. Minor’s illustrations enliven the lengthy story; the effects of the ghostly figure, the sinister bad guys and the signal fires definitely help. His use of color continues to impress, as does his ability to employ unique perspectives. But the story itself is forced and awkward, and even pretty pictures can’t bring it to life. While it could be useful for teachers needing read-alouds about American history, this is not a necessary purchase. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 3, 2007

ISBN: 1-4169-3514-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

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Pilkey is still having entirely too much fun with this popular series, which continues to careen along with nary a whiff of...

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE WRATH OF THE WICKED WEDGIE WOMAN

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 5

Trying to salvage failing grades, George and Harold use their handy 3-D Hypno Ring on termagant teacher Ms. Ribble—and succeed only in creating a supervillain with a medusa-like ’do and a yen to conquer the world with wedgie power. 

Using a pair of robot sidekicks and plenty of spray starch, she even overcomes Captain Underpants. Is it curtains (or rather, wedgies) for all of us? Can the redoubtable fourth graders rescue the Waistband Warrior (a.k.a. Principal Krupp) and find a way to save the day? Well, duh. Not, of course, without an epic battle waged in low-budget Flip-O-Rama, plus no fewer than three homemade comics, including an “Origin of Captain Underpants” in which we learn that his home planet of Underpantyworld was destroyed by the . . . wait for it . . . “Starch Ship Enterprize.” As in the previous four episodes, neither the pace nor the funky humor (“Diapers and toilets and poop . . . oh my!”) lets up for a moment.  Pilkey is still having entirely too much fun with this popular series, which continues to careen along with nary a whiff of staleness. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-04999-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

A WHALE OF THE WILD

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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