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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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...


Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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