Gently and agreeably thrilling.

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CAPTAIN JACK AND THE PIRATES

Jack, Zack, and Caspar (King Jack and the Dragon, 2011) are back in an adventure by the seaside, complete with stormy waters…and pirates!

Bently’s rhyming narrative could be sung as a sea chantey. Pre-kindergarteners pink-cheeked Jack and brown-skinned Zack build “a galleon down by the sea” assisted by diaper-clad and towheaded Caspar, pacifier firmly clenched in his mouth. Their sand construction sports mast and boom, sand-bucket cannons, and a teddy-bear cabin boy. Oxenbury’s artwork, in a mix of full-bleed color illustrations and monochrome sketches, shows the boys hard at work on their ship. The blending of the real day at the seaside and the fanciful voyage on the high seas is beautifully done. Sun and warm sand give way to a steely gray ocean, with whitecaps and a pirate ship in the distance as the young buccaneers (“hungry for glory and enemy booty”) set out. The imaginary, scowling, sword-wielding grown-up pirates in the approaching square-rigger are comical yet ferocious enough to cause delighted shivers. The voyage ends as a brief cloudburst clears away the beachgoers, but the boys find plenty of fine booty, including ice-cream cones, offered by a pair of friendly pirates who look like Mum and Dad. The trek between the beach and the car documented on the endpapers sweetly bookends the excitement. A clear, large font and generous trim size invite the young audience in.

Gently and agreeably thrilling. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-525-42950-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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