The premise promises more than the delivery, BUT…there’s no denying that this tale of pirate foolishness is great good fun.

BUT!

An impromptu piratical birthday bash is saved at the last minute thanks to quick thinking and ample ugly footwear.

Eddie and his dog, Phil, reside in a happy little seaside community where the denizens’ biggest problem is their cold heads. When the duo’s fishing plans are scuppered thanks to Eddie’s aunt Sue’s insistence that he come to her place to do some chores, they find that this involves throwing a surprise party for her pal Capt. Rugbeard. Each time it looks like Eddie and Phil’s woes are solved, the page will end with a resounding, red, bolded “BUT….” And with each turn of the page, the font of the “But” grows larger and larger in tandem with the story’s tension. A birthday-present misunderstanding yields to a happy ending involving footwear as headwear. The device of ending each page on a cliffhanger has been employed with greater skill and ease in similar titles, yet the sneaky conjunction will provide ample prompts for teachers and parents hoping to spark a bit of creativity in those young charges who will enjoy predicting the nature of each “But.” Hamilton’s accompanying pen, ink and watercolor illustrations give the book the properly madcap air of gentle chaos the storyline requires.

The premise promises more than the delivery, BUT…there’s no denying that this tale of pirate foolishness is great good fun. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3046-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Sure to assuage the fears of all astronauts bound for similar missions.

PLANET KINDERGARTEN

A genius way to ease kids into the new adventure that is kindergarten.

In an imaginative ruse that’s maintained through the whole book, a young astronaut prepares for his mission to Planet Kindergarten. On liftoff day (a space shuttle–themed calendar counts down the days; a stopwatch, the minutes), the small family boards their rocket ship (depicted in the illustrations as the family car), and “the boosters fire.” They orbit base camp while looking for a docking place. “I am assigned to my commander, capsule, and crewmates.” Though he’s afraid, he stands tall and is brave (not just once, either—the escape hatch beckons, but NASA’s saying gets him through: “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION”). Parents will certainly chuckle along with this one, but kindergarten teachers’ stomach muscles will ache: “[G]ravity works differently here. We have to try hard to stay in our seats. And our hands go up a lot.” Prigmore’s digital illustrations are the perfect complement to the tongue-in-cheek text. Bold colors, sharp lines and a retro-space style play up the theme. The intrepid explorer’s crewmates are a motley assortment of “aliens”—among them are a kid in a hoodie with the laces pulled so tight that only a nose and mouth are visible; a plump kid with a bluish cast to his skin; and a pinkish girl with a toothpick-thin neck and huge bug eyes.

Sure to assuage the fears of all astronauts bound for similar missions. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1893-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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THE LITTLE WOODEN ROBOT AND THE LOG PRINCESS

A brother and sister must overcome obstacles to rescue each other in a marvelous journey.

“There once lived,” the tale begins, and it ends quite satisfactorily with “happily ever after.” In between, two heroic adventures are linked together, each complete with difficulties, brave rescues, kindnesses, and magical coincidences. The little wooden robot and the log princess are gifts from the royal inventor and a clever witch, respectively, for “a king and queen who happily ruled a pleasant land” but had no children. Everyone in the family loves one another, and the siblings play together all day. But when, calamitously, the princess becomes fixed in her log form one night, the little robot doesn’t hesitate to board a ship for the far north to save his sister, and when his parts fail on the way back, the princess steps up courageously. The additional myriad escapades of each young hero are captured in charming graphic montages. Gauld’s crisp, clear art, with captivating small details in backgrounds and endpapers, adds richness to the narrative. The amiable faces of each of his human and humanoid characters, along with those of birds, bugs, and forest creatures, give a feel of intimacy and familiarity. The queen appears Black and the king White, and the princess has brown skin. Gauld’s fairy tale feels both timeless and completely new; utterly fresh, yet like a story heard long ago and finally found again.

Enchanting. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4698-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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