THE WORD PIRATES

A right jolly paean to the deliciousness of words.

A tale of vocabulary-related piratical chicanery doubles as a touching ode to the deceased author Margaret Mahy.

Hungry pirates are nothing to mess with under ordinary circumstances, and these buccaneers are absolutely not ordinary. Capt. Rottingbones and his crew crave but one substance for their meals: words! With their Bumblebirds trained to steal from writers and books, the crew feasts on words both long (“antidisestablishmentarianism”) and short (“pop”). Their doom comes when the captain sets his sights on a rainbow-wigged New Zealand “Word Wizard” (a nod to Mahy, to whom this book is dedicated). Unafraid, she does battle with the pirates with her pen, ultimately chastening them and setting them on a new path in life. There is always room for one more tale about the power of the written word, and adding pirates to the mix lends a bit of spice and flavor to this one. Accompanying the rollicking storyline, Kellogg’s bright paintings, done in his signature style, fill his pages with busyness. The Bumblebirds look like white sea gulls, and the words they hunt droop from their beaks like dead fish. The pirates and other characters represent a variety of skin tones and genders while the Word Wizard and captain present white. One pirate has both an eye patch and a peg leg, but otherwise the captain’s crew is largely free of stereotype.

A right jolly paean to the deliciousness of words. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4359-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

As ephemeral as a valentine.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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