It seems like the question isn’t “whose story is it?” at book’s end, but what other stories might have arisen through these...

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WHOSE STORY IS THIS, ANYWAY?

A metafictive text introduces a bevy of exciting characters.

The title page indicates the tension between the competing narratives suggested by the book’s title since it includes four scratched-out, but legible, titles above the main one. The book proper begins with a declaration from a brown-haired, white child that the story is great “Because it’s all about me.” As pages turn, however, Salty Pete the pirate, a dinosaur, an extraterrestrial named Yurxl, and Sir Knightly astride a horse all enter the story and jockey for position in asserting their own stories. The child who began the story is not amused! Increasingly crowded images introduce Vikings, robots, and zombies to the story. (All the human characters are white.) Ultimately, there’s room for all when the text resolves with the statement that this is a story about when the child “met a bunch of crazy new friends,” but it’s hard not to feel as though both Flaherty and the narrator are caving in under the pressure. Cartoon-style digital art matches the rising excitement of the text as the pages progress and then depicts the final, calm scene in silhouette. This is a well-worn conceit in contemporary picture books, and it delivers an anticlimactic conclusion after so much buildup.

It seems like the question isn’t “whose story is it?” at book’s end, but what other stories might have arisen through these characters? (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1608-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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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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Arrrrguably the best piratical dogfight you’ll ever sink your teeth into.

BAD PIRATE

Wicked smart pacing and playful art tell the tale of a pirate too doggone loyal for her own good.

Capt. Barnacle Garrick may be the scurviest cur (literally—he’s a springer spaniel) to sail the seven seas, but his blue-eyed daughter Augusta is kind, considerate, and caring. In short, she’s a very bad pirate indeed. Disgusted—she’s more inclined to tuck her bunkmates in than to commit basic forms of piracy—her father admonishes her to “be saucy…bold….But most important, me sea pup, yez gots to be SELFISH!” Augusta tries by purloining a fellow shipmate’s peg leg, but when a squall and a torn mainsail mean almost certain sinking, the feisty sea pup teaches her father and his crew that sometimes it pays to be saucy, bold, and selfless. In a story so packed with piratical jargon and growls that even the most staid and sorry landlubbers will become salty dogs while reading it, it’s Griffiths’ art that takes the wave-swept narrative to another level. Augusta’s charm goes far, and each breed of canine is rendered with a loving hand. Even more delightful are the tiny details. From Augusta’s surreptitious carving of a new peg leg to Garrick’s battles with uniformed mice in an early vignette, young readers will see something new with each turn of the page.

Arrrrguably the best piratical dogfight you’ll ever sink your teeth into. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-9274-8571-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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