A satisfying, well-told story of an orphan boy who escapes the clutches of his pirate abductors, proves himself courageous...

ARRGH!

A high-seas middle-grade adventure about an orphan captured by pirates who befriends a talking mouse.

In her first middle-grade novel, Campbell (Whisper, 2014, etc.) tells the tale of Christopher, a 13-year-old boy who escapes the Norphan Home for Wayward Boys and falls into the clutches of two pirates named Boots and Stinky. After he overhears their plan to steal the merchant vessel Georgiana, they force him to accompany them aboard the ship. Boots convinces the Georgiana’s Capt. Hughes and his young daughter, Lucy, that the boy is his mute nephew. Aboard the ship, Christopher also meets Leonardo Mousekins, a brown talking mouse who acts as his guide. The pirates tell Christopher that he must pretend to be mute during the voyage to the island of Tortola and say nothing of their plot or they’ll kill him. Later, a storm rocks the ship, and the admiral on board suffers a gunshot wound; Christopher fetches the ship’s surgeon in time to save him, winning the admiration of Capt. Hughes, Lucy and the crew. Eventually, Christopher tells Lucy he isn’t mute, and the girl alerts her father to the traitors on board who plan to hand over the ship to the pirate Red Blade, captain of the Dragon’s Breath. Christopher tries to bring the mutineers to justice, uncover lost treasures, retain the affection of his new friends, and make a home with a new family. Readers will discover several story elements here that seem vaguely familiar. Christopher, for example, seems to embody both the courageous John Darling from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, and the good-natured Christopher Robin from A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh. Leo appears to be an amalgam of Feivel Mousekewitz from the 1986 film An American Tail and Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio (1940). Other elements, such as the voyage to Tortola and the discovery of buried treasure, seem to borrow inspiration from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Yet, despite these familiar notes, Campbell’s novel is a delightful symphony for children, tuned with evocative prose that conjures images of the seafaring life:  “[O]n top of a mound of molding fishnets, a fat street cat sat contentedly, cleaning his paws.”

A satisfying, well-told story of an orphan boy who escapes the clutches of his pirate abductors, proves himself courageous and finds the real treasure of family.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0988478442

Page Count: 282

Publisher: Green Darner Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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