Nit-picking aside, here be a collection that pint-sized pirates will be pleased to return to again and again.

A PIRATE'S MOTHER GOOSE

Mother Goose exchanges sweet niceties for cutlasses, eyepatches, and gold teeth galore in this piratical updating of nursery-rhyme favorites.

If you’ve never wondered what Miss Muffet would look like in a cap decorated with a skull or pondered how Jack Horner would fare with a peg leg, now’s the time to remedy this woeful lack of imagination. Twenty-two classic nursery rhymes get a swashbuckling overhaul as Wee Willie Winkie becomes Pretty Polly Pirate, and Jack Sprat is upgraded to Capt. Jack. The book gets off to a rough start, scansion being its biggest difficulty in poems like “Rub-a-dub-dub” and “One Misty Moisty Morning.” Some poems get only minimal makeovers, merely substituting pirate terms for the original rhymes’ nouns (see: “Rock-a-by, Pirate”). Unsurprisingly, the best poems are the ones that are the most creative. For example, changing “London Bridge Is Falling Down” to “Ye Can Talk Like Pirates Talk” turns the rhyme into inspired interactive storytime fare. Each poem credits its original so that readers needn’t figure out the references from mere context or rhyme scheme. The rambunctious cartoon-style art does its share of the heavy lifting, presenting a nicely diverse array of salty sea dogs (even girls!) that exude boisterous vim and vigor.

Nit-picking aside, here be a collection that pint-sized pirates will be pleased to return to again and again. (Picture book/poetry. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6559-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it...

FEAR THE BUNNY

A tiger can’t believe it’s being upstaged in this picture-book riff on William Blake’s famous poem.

A group of zoologically diverse animals huddle around a fire, listening to a porcupine read from a chilling poem: “Bunnies, bunnies, burning bright, / in the forests of the night—.” An incredulous tiger interrupts, saying that the poem is actually about it. But a squirrel matter-of-factly states that “Here, it’s ‘bunnies, bunnies.’ ” The tiger still doesn’t understand why the animals would be so afraid of bunnies but not afraid of tigers and tries to explain why it, an apex predator, is far more threatening. The smaller animals remain unimpressed, calmly telling the tiger that “In this forest, we fear the bunny” and that it should “Hide now, before it’s too late.” An amusing and well-done premise slightly disappoints at the climax, with the tiger streaking away in terror before a horde of headlamp-wearing bunnies, but eager readers never learn what, exactly, the bunnies would do if they caught up. But at the end, a group of tigers joins the other animals in their awestruck reading of the adapted Blake poem, included in full at the end. Cute, fuzzy illustrations contrast nicely with the dark tone and forest background.

A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it overcomes a weak conclusion. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7800-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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