THE ERIE CANAL PIRATES

Kimmel and Glass (Grizz!, 2000) reunite for a rousing original tale of battle between canal pirates and a crew of mail carriers. Modeling his rhyme on the old ballad beginning, “We were 40 miles from Albany / Forget it I never shall . . . ” Kimmel pits “Bill McGrew and his pirate crew / The Terror of Buffalo,” against intrepid Captain Flynn, who carries the fight from Mohawk into Lake Ontario, to the whirlpool beneath Niagara Falls. While the pirates go down to become watery ghosts wandering the Tonawanda shore, Flynn, with the aid of his trusty mule Ole Frank, tales his flatboat up the Falls to safety. In an afterword, Kimmel explains the origin of his story—a visit to a class that had been studying the Erie Canal, where he began to make up the idea of pirates—and the geographical liberties he took. Glass adds to the fun with wet-brushed scenes of rumpled boats and equally rumpled river men, the latter sporting floppy hats and heavy facial hair. Children will want to book return trips after this anything-but-uneventful voyage. (map) (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-8234-1657-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

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FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY

This fervent but sketchy tribute to the world’s best known living athlete gives young readers stylized, spray-painted views of a comic book–style superhero with hugely exaggerated muscles and, generally, an open mouth, paired to eye-glazing captions. “As a boy, he struggled to make his way in the segregated world of the PRE-CIVIL RIGHTS SOUTH.” Shange makes a case for dubbing Ali a “hero for all time,” but aside from a later quote of the subtitle, she mentions his way with rhyme only as a boy, and ends her account of his boxing career with 1974’s “Rumble in the Jungle,” seven years before his last fight. The appended chronology addresses that lack, but skips from 1981 to 1996, and refers to his Parkinson’s Disease without explaining what it is—or its probable cause. Next to the strong prose and evocative art of Walter Dean Myers’s Malcolm X: A Fire Burning Brightly, illustrated by Leonard Jenkins (2000), or the grandeur of Doreen Rappaport’s Martin’s Big Words, illustrated by Brian Collier (2001), this portrait of a widely admired African-American comes off as more strident than inspirational. (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7868-0554-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

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Plenty of baseball action, but the paint-by-numbers plot is just a vehicle for equally standard-issue advice. .

THE CONTRACT

For his eponymous imprint, the New York Yankees star leads off with a self-referential tale of Little League triumphs.

In the first of a projected 10 episodes based on the same number of “Life Lessons” espoused by the lead author’s Turn 2 Foundation, third-grader Derek turns in an essay announcing that his dream is to play shortstop for the New York Yankees (No. 1 on the Turn 2 list: “Set your goals high”). His parents take him seriously enough not only to present him with a “contract” that promises rewards for behaviors like working hard and avoiding alcohol and drugs, but also to put a flea in the ear of his teacher after she gives him a B-minus on the essay for being unrealistic. Derek then goes on to pull up his math grade. He also proceeds to pull off brilliant plays for his new Little League team despite finding himself stuck at second base while the coach’s son makes multiple bad decisions at shortstop and, worse, publicly puts down other team members. Jeter serves as his own best example of the chosen theme’s theoretical validity, but as he never acknowledges that making the majors (in any sport) requires uncommon physical talent as well as ambition and determination, this values-driven pitch is well out of the strike zone.

Plenty of baseball action, but the paint-by-numbers plot is just a vehicle for equally standard-issue advice. . (foundation ad and curriculum guide, not seen) (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2312-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Jeter/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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