It’s an outing antic enough to cause rough young salts to hoist their sippy cups in glee.



The opening episode of a rollicking pirate yarn replete with bones, heaps of treasure and Yo-Ho-Hos.

Transformed by a fabulously hideous Sea Witch into a talking skull-and-crossbones decorating a pirate hat, dashing buccaneer Jolly Jock Jenkins starts off at a disadvantage in a race against Captain Eggbert and his lizard-turned–giant green zombie Lil’ Buddy to fetch three hard-to-get curse-breaking items—a Dragon’s Tear, Black Beard’s beard and Big Foot’s Ingrown Toenail. Once Jolly lands atop the head of young pirate-wannabe Roger, however, and the two roar off aboard the souped-up flying boat Scully Bucket, the contest evens up. In a fine range of (often unpredictable) touch-activated flourishes, cannon fire, skeletons dance or light up, hilariously ugly monsters moan and rotting timbers groan. A moderately piratical-sounding narrator (joined on occasion by additional voices) supplies optional audio as the tale sails along to Dragon Mountain. After a double confrontation with an irritated but ticklish fire-breathing dragon and a pair of brutish but remarkably stupid rival thieves, the swashbuckling pirate hat and his attached pirate lad zoom away on their next quest. Stay tuned.

It’s an outing antic enough to cause rough young salts to hoist their sippy cups in glee. (iPad storybook app. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Unicorn Labs

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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Hee haw.

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.


From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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