For instructional, therapeutic reading, with a dog narrator as the spoonful of sugar.

BRISKET HELPS MIRYAM WITH ONLINE LEARNING

From the Helper Hounds series

A child who can’t safely return to in-person schooling learns focus from a well-trained Lakeland terrier.

Despite all his “zoomies” and “wiggles,” Brisket is an excellent Helper Hound. After he was adopted by Luke, a White American man then living in London, Brisket became a medal-winning pup in his obedience drills. Now he and Luke live in America and work in animal-assisted therapy. Wearing his Helper Hounds vest, Brisket demonstrates his focus and attention for Miryam, an immunocompromised child who can’t return to normal school yet. In the illustrations—which depict adults rather like tall children—Miryam and her father, Malik, have pale skin and straight, dark hair. Luke explains to them how the skills that make Brisket excel at obedience drills might also help Miryam with remote schooling. Frequent breaks for Miryam and Brisket to run and play (getting their “zooooooomies out”) keep this story from becoming a lesson in how a child should behave like an obedient pet. Illustrations of Luke, Miryam, and Malik wearing masks, together with discussion of both children with health concerns and the difficulties of remote schooling, provide value for readers whose early education has been so utterly strange. One major continuity problem and some indifferent prose aside, reading about Miryam’s problems could comfort readers who’ve experienced the strangeness of pandemic school and medical fears. Tips on focusing and further facts about Lakeland terriers follow the story. Series companion Louis Helps Ajani Fight Racism publishes simultaneously.

For instructional, therapeutic reading, with a dog narrator as the spoonful of sugar. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64371-080-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Red Chair Press

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure.

THE PIRATE PIG

It’s not truffles but doubloons that tickle this porcine wayfarer’s fancy.

Funke and Meyer make another foray into chapter-book fare after Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). Here, mariner Stout Sam and deckhand Pip eke out a comfortable existence on Butterfly Island ferrying cargo to and fro. Life is good, but it takes an unexpected turn when a barrel washes ashore containing a pig with a skull-and-crossbones pendant around her neck. It soon becomes clear that this little piggy, dubbed Julie, has the ability to sniff out treasure—lots of it—in the sea. The duo is pleased with her skills, but pride goeth before the hog. Stout Sam hands out some baubles to the local children, and his largess attracts the unwanted attention of Barracuda Bill and his nasty minions. Now they’ve pignapped Julie, and it’s up to the intrepid sailors to save the porker and their own bacon. The succinct word count meets the needs of kids looking for early adventure fare. The tale is slight, bouncy, and amusing, though Julie is never the piratical buccaneer the book’s cover seems to suggest. Meanwhile, Meyer’s cheery watercolors are as comfortable diagramming the different parts of a pirate vessel as they are rendering the dread pirate captain himself.

A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37544-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment.

CAT DAD, KING OF THE GOBLINS

A pair of sisters and a froggy sidekick go up against a horde of fungal jungle dwellers in this frantically paced Canadian import.

When Mom transforms Dad into a cat, 10-year-old Luey, her leggy green friend, Phil, and little sister Miri chase him through a closet door and down a jungle path into a maze of tunnels. They manage to rescue their errant parent from the maroon-colored, cat-worshiping goblins that had overrun the garden. (They are not the “mythological” sort, explains Wilson, but sentient mushrooms dressed in towels.) The three put most of their pursuers to flight by rubbing Dad’s fur the wrong way to turn him into a raving, furry maniac (the rest flee at the closet door, screaming “IT’S THE MOM CREATURE! RETREAT!!”). Captured in multiple, sometimes overly small panels of garishly colored cartoon art, the action—not to mention the internal logic—is sometimes hard to follow. Still, dragging along their timorous but canny buddy, the dark-skinned, big-haired sisters dash into danger with commendable vim, and readers will cheer when they come out triumphant on the other side.

This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment. (afterword) (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927668-11-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Koyama Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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