Keep your bitcoins—you never know when somebody might need a button.

SWAP!

A broken-down captain and his young, peg-legged mate rediscover an ages-old system to rebuild their battered ship without spending a penny.

It’s called barter or swap, that mode of trade that requires not coinage but need. Light starts at the very beginning: the poor captain has a button, which doesn’t look very promising until a lady agrees to swap two teacups for the button, which the boy then turns around and swaps for three coils of rope. For two of the coils he gets six oars, and for two of the oars he gets six flags. Flags? Well, you never know where things may lead. Flags beget anchors that beget sails that beget ships’ wheels and birds and jaunty hats and a hand-carved figurehead. Next thing you know, the old wreck is not only seaworthy, but has a bit of dash. Light’s artwork is lightly amusing throughout, with a throng of crabbed ink lines busily filling the mostly white backgrounds, making the incidents of color—blue here, purple and orange there—the more sparkling. Complementing the smart artwork is a smart story: you don’t have to have a pocket full of gold to get by; wits often work just as well. Though the boy’s peg leg immediately conjures hoary old pirate tropes, these are honest, hard-working tars, and it’s a positive delight to see a disabled boy depicted as an equal participant in the economy.

Keep your bitcoins—you never know when somebody might need a button. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7990-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book.

SCOOPER AND DUMPER

Friends don’t let friends expire in snowdrifts.

Convoluted storytelling and confusing art turn a cute premise into a mishmash of a book. Scooper’s a front loader that works in the town salt yard, replenishing the snowplows that arrive. Dumper’s her best friend, more than happy to plow and salt the roads himself. When the big city calls in Dumper to help with a snow squall, he brushes off Scooper’s concerns. Yet slippery roads and a seven-vehicle pileup launch poor Dumper onto his side in a snowbank. Can Scooper overcome fears that she’s too slow and save the day? Following a plot as succinct as this should be a breeze, but the rhyming text obfuscates more than it clarifies. Lines such as, “Dumper’s here— / let’s rock ’n’ roll! / Big city’s callin’ for / some small-town soul” can prove impenetrable. The art of the book matches this confusion, with light-blue Dumper often hard to pick out among other, similarly colored vehicles, particularly in the snowstorm. Speech bubbles, as when the city calls for Scooper’s and Dumper’s help, lead to a great deal of visual confusion. Scooper is also featured sporting long eyelashes and a bow, lest anyone mistake the dithering, frightened truck as anything but female. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 16.8% of actual size.)

Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9268-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A cozy read for bibliophiles.

SNOWMAN'S STORY

With echoes of “Frosty the Snowman” in the background, a snowman’s storybook within this wordless book delivers a comic wintertime romp.

Woodland creatures build a snowman, giving him a green book as a finishing touch. This addition comes right after a windswept top hat lands on his head, vivifying him à la Frosty. Hidden inside is a rabbit (it is a magic hat, after all); attentive readers will have seen the hat first on frontmatter pages and then with the bunny in the double-page spreads before the early ones devoted to the snowman’s construction. The snowman reads his book aloud to the animals, with the rabbit surreptitiously listening in, its ears poking out of the top of the hat. When the others all drift off to sleep, the bunny emerges and steals away with the book. A chase ensues across snowy terrain and through a series of pages (perhaps a few too many for good pacing) replete with comic-style panels. When the animals and snowman confront the rabbit in its tree-hollow home, its motivation for book thievery is revealed: This bunny has a family and wishes to share the story with its children. All’s well that ends well, and the animals convene (safely outside and away from the rabbit family’s crackling fireplace) to read together.

A cozy read for bibliophiles. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4787-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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