Like Kidd’s faithful crew, readers should follow this battle-tested pirate (with the insecurities and loyalties of a...

Captain Kidd and the Jersey Devil

A pirate adventure story—rife with ghosts, Native American legends, ancient curses, hidden treasure, and a bogeyman—features a dog-loving boy on a mission.

Fair warning to the squeamish: Winkelstein’s (Brisko: A True Tale of Holocaust Survival, 2014, etc.) middle-grade novel, as narrated by an escaped slave known as the Black Doctor, “is not a soft one.” Death is a constant, gruesome companion, appropriate for a tale of vengeance and its repercussions. Set in 1745, Capt. William Kidd III is a 14-year-old pirate who has marked a course for the Devil—a beastly bogeyman plaguing southern New Jersey—who killed his pappy. Accompanied by a steadfast poodle named Black Dog, Kidd and his devoted crew know the journey will be dangerous, but when the Adventure Galley runs aground in the Batsto River, a terrible fate befalls them. During the turmoil, the Devil kidnaps the pirate’s beloved poodle (Kidd “remembered Black Dog’s howl and those disfigured, mutant feet that had carried her away”). Stranded in the Pine Barrens, Kidd changes his objective from revenge to rescue. The Black Doctor saves the pirate from a squirmworthy fate and offers guidance for unlocking mysteries in the teen’s past. When British soldiers capture Kidd, Tilda McKenzie, a tough local girl who looks cute and kicks butt, helps him escape, leading him toward his father’s hidden treasure. The pirate dialogue (“ ‘That’s the trouble o’ landlubbers!’ cried Bone. ‘Too trustin’!’ ”) feels authentic and immersive, with just a few missteps (“ ‘Ew, Black Dog,’ Kidd said. ‘Gross’ ”). A variety of subplots—the Devil’s back story, Kidd’s parentage, a budding romance, Native American legends, magical treasure, ghostly visitations, even a trip to “Fiddler’s Green”—jumbles the narrative. Although the climax brings all the elements together, the result stretches suspension of disbelief to the limit. Not helping are dei ex machina additions that provide convenient but unnecessary plot devices; Kidd is engaging enough without superpowers. Nonetheless, pages turn quickly in this tightly woven, action-packed tale with unusual twists, real heart, and a surprising conclusion that promises even more wondrous escapades to come.

Like Kidd’s faithful crew, readers should follow this battle-tested pirate (with the insecurities and loyalties of a teenager) to strange and exciting destinations.

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9824498-7-5

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Mystic Waters Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

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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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