ARRR, MUSTACHE BABY!

From the Mustache Baby series

The hirsute baby buddies (Mustache Baby Meets His Match, 2015, etc.) are back for more adventures!

Mustachioed baby Billy and bearded baby Javier are spending the day at the pool, a perfect place to explore the high seas and rescue shipwrecked passengers (a floating Barbie), save stranded whales (a sunbather lying next to the pool), and fight sea monsters (a snorkeling swimmer). They become fishermen and submarine scientists and Navy sailors….However, two pirates named Capt. Kid and Short John Silver have stolen treasure and are burying it on a deserted island (the sandbox). Sailors Billy and Javier recover the treasure and start to return it to its rightful owners when: Pirates attack! During the resultant duel, Billy’s mustache grows long and curly and Javier’s beard gets pointy—suddenly they are “bad guy” pirates too! Their greed is their undoing, and they are put in the dungeon (separate pack and plays). When they wake, they do everything to become heroes again…even befriend Capt. Kid and Short John Silver. This silly tale of hairy-faced babies who are bad some of the time and learn from their mistakes, Heos and Ang’s third outing together, is a good addition to pirate storytimes or hairy-baby collections. In Ang’s stylized digital illustrations, Billy presents white, presumably Latinx Javier is light brown; Short John Silver is black; and Capt. Kid has olive skin and a fluffy black bob.

Good fun. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-50652-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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While thar be precious little piracy visible in this, its feminist themes are strong.

HOW TO BE A PIRATE

Feminism for the piratically inclined.

Fitzgerald and Barrager give the old chestnut of a girl who’s turned away from a boys’ fort due to her gender alone a piratical twist. After CeCe’s initial disappointment, she vows to get advice from the only true pirate she knows: her grandfather. Game to give his granddaughter a 101 in how to be the best possible scurvy dog, he uses each of his tattoos to extol a virtue such as bravery or speed. As in Alison McGhee and Eliza Wheeler’s Tell Me a Tattoo Story (2016), body art becomes the inspiration for any number of adventures and aphorisms, ending with the most important lesson: love. Readers may note that few of these flights of fancy have much to do with pirates specifically. Nevertheless, an emboldened CeCe returns to the boys and successfully owns her piratude. The ending is more than a bit optimistic, as CeCe gains admission simply by redeclaring intentions with a smidgen more chutzpah. Would that misogyny always rolled over so easily. Happily, Fitzgerald’s tale is accompanied by the rollicking vibrancy of Barrager’s art. Reality pales (literally) in the face of the imagination, with a clever tonal shift to a brighter, more saturated palette indicating CeCe’s determination. CeCe and Grandpa both present white; the boys who initially snub her display a range of skin colors and hair textures.

While thar be precious little piracy visible in this, its feminist themes are strong. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68119-778-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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