Themes of diversity and self-esteem not only fill the sails, but keep firm grasp of the wheel in this nautical caper.

LITTLE CAPTAIN JACK

From the Little Captain Jack series

A pirate captain so tiny he can be stuffed in a rival captain’s pocket discovers that greatness can come in any size or shape.

That conclusion, though worthy, doesn’t have much connection to the actual story, but it’s so good-natured most readers won’t mind. Being so dinky that his own crew can’t hear his commands, Little Captain Jack is finally driven to tears when Pirate Badlock ends a shipboard battle by picking him up and chucking him into the “cellar.” But after he manages to escape with help from a mouse and a sea gull, Jack rejoins his delighted crew and “finally felt proud and happy to be Little Captain Jack!” Outfitted with wooden swords and, in Badlock’s case, a fork rather than a hook at the end of one arm, the fierce but not very dangerous-looking pirates here include dogs, cats, and birds as well as men and women both brown or (more commonly) pink of skin. Eye patches and lopped limbs can be seen on every, er, hand, and one rosy-cheeked young tar even gets around in a wheelchair, begad. Carretero clearly enjoys making the most of Little Captain Jack’s diminutive size, positioning him in the shadow of an enormous sneaker in one scene and dwarfing him by his mouse friend in another.

Themes of diversity and self-esteem not only fill the sails, but keep firm grasp of the wheel in this nautical caper. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-84-945415-0-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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