A beautifully illustrated patchwork.


Fourteen-year-old Josiah Starbuck of Nantucket becomes marooned on an island with his dog, Zeke.

Extemporizing on Moby-Dick (a work with which the target audience is highly unlikely to be familiar), this story opens with a man who tells Josiah to “Call me Ishmael” showing up at the Starbucks’ house early one morning to deliver the news to Josiah and his mother that the whaler Pequod, on which Josiah’s father shipped out as first mate, went down with all hands except Ishmael. Josiah is understandably upset, but his grief turns (unconvincingly) to anger at Ishmael and his mother. Needing to clear his head, Josiah sets off in his catboat with Zeke and is caught by a storm. Knocked unconscious by the boom, Josiah wakes up to find himself shipwrecked on a tiny, unfamiliar island. He and Zeke eke out their survival on the scrubby island, on which sits a coffin-shaped fisherman’s shack and an arch made of a whalebone’s jaw—which delivers disturbing dreams to Josiah (the strongest portions of the story) whenever he falls asleep against it. The story’s inconsistencies (whether it’s early or late spring, wouldn’t a boy whose mother makes blueberry jam recognize a blueberry bush out of season? How does Josiah know that Ishmael floated on a coffin when Ishmael did not relate that part of the story?) undermine it, and the two narrative sections—the dreams and Josiah’s survival activities—don’t transmute into a whole. The exquisite black-and-white illustrations, however, deliver a rich resonance.

A beautifully illustrated patchwork. (Historical fantasy/fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-61696-350-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Tachyon

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.


The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?