THE OLD PIRATE OF CENTRAL PARK

The leap-at-you color and elegantly stylized illustrations, resembling airbrushed linoleum-cuts, give this book an instant allure; the story—a noble tale of character and social leveling, mock drama and high mirth—more than meets the expectations aroused by that first impression. A retired pirate, out on a stroll in Central Park, is prompted by his memories to build a scale-model replica of his pirate ship and launch it in the park’s sailboat pond. All is shipshape until an old queen arrives and has her servant launch an outsized liner—the S.S. Uppity Duchess. The liner barges about, swamping the other boats in the pond, but at the pirate’s suggestion to slow her vessel, the queen opens fire on his ship. He responds with a broadside of his own and a great battle ensues; tiny cannonballs zing this way and that, people take cover, dogs and young children run riot, taxis on Fifth Avenue come to a halt. Then the queen calls a truce; she’s in need of a nap, and from that need—which the pirate shares—flows the notes of reconciliation. “Peace and tranquility once again reigned at the pond. Sails were set, dogs recaptured, and gentle laughter returned to the soft summer air of New York City.” Priest tells the story with dash and verve, whether in a turn of phrase or a line of art; it not only features a contemporary city with one of its great pleasures—the park—in full flower, but a realm in which the wish for a little rest outweighs the wages of war. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-90505-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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ISAAC THE ICE CREAM TRUCK

Newcomer Santoro’s story of the ice cream truck that pined for a more important role in life suffers from a premise that’s well-worn and still fraying—the person or object that longs to be something “more” in life, only to find out that his or its lot in life is enough, after all. Isaac the ice cream truck envies all the bigger, larger, more important vehicles he encounters (the big wheels are depicted as a rude lot, sullen, surly, and snarling, hardly a group to excite much envy) in a day, most of all the fire trucks and their worthy occupants. When Isaac gets that predictable boost to his self-image—he serves up ice cream to over-heated firefighters after a big blaze—it comes as an unmistakable putdown to the picture-book audience: the children who cherished Isaac—“They would gather around him, laughing and happy”—weren’t reason enough for him to be contented. Santoro equips the tale with a tune of Isaac’s very own, and retro scenes in tropical-hued colored pencil that deftly convey the speed of the trucks with skating, skewed angles. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5296-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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CLICKETY CLACK

A train load of wild and wacky animals gets so noisy that the engineer has to shout to get them to quiet down. The little black train picks up yaks, acrobats, a troupe of ducks, and stomping elephants as passengers. But when two mice that are in to fireworks climb aboard, the engineer threatens to stop the whole train. “ ‘Keep it down!’ yells Driver Zach. ‘You’re giving me a headache attack!’ “ Everyone quickly hushes up, and soon, “the only sound you hear, in fact,/is the sound of the wheels on the railroad track. Clickety clack, clickety clack.” The words bounce along to the rhythm of a train on its way, and the swell of the sound effects makes this a joy to read aloud. Spengler’s robust illustrations capture an antic cast of passengers, conveying the action as much through composition as color. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-670-87946-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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