These salty sea dogs put the bite back in buccaneering.

ALL PAWS ON DECK

From the Haggis and Tank Unleashed series , Vol. 1

Two bored pups take to the high seas in an imaginative and homophone-friendly caper.

Tank, a Great Dane of endless spunk and enthusiasm, and Haggis, a small Scottish terrier with an uncanny resemblance to Wilford Brimley, decide that the best way to spend a sunny morning is to pretend that they’re the “rrruff-est scallywags” to sail the seven seas. With Tank (aka “Bootleg Bonny”) providing the passion and Haggis (“Captain Scurvy”) the brains, they encounter everything from sneaky squeaky sea serpents and buried treasure to the perils of improper slipknots. Fortunately, when certain death threatens the daring duo, deliverance appears in the least likely of places. In this latest addition to Scholastic’s early chapter Branches imprint, Young spends a fair amount of time engaging her heroes in enticing banter and funny misunderstandings involving puns and homophones. It’s especially gratifying to see that the big, tough, strong dog character is a female. Burks’ plentiful, full-color art is consistently engaging, incorporating dialogue bubbles as well as regular typeset prose. Kids dipping a toe into the waters of early chapter books will find themselves challenged by the text while simultaneously enticed by the alluring art.

These salty sea dogs put the bite back in buccaneering. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 6-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-81887-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound.

HOW TO CATCH A GINGERBREAD MAN

From the How To Catch… series

The titular cookie runs off the page at a bookstore storytime, pursued by young listeners and literary characters.

Following on 13 previous How To Catch… escapades, Wallace supplies sometimes-tortured doggerel and Elkerton, a set of helter-skelter cartoon scenes. Here the insouciant narrator scampers through aisles, avoiding a series of elaborate snares set by the racially diverse young storytime audience with help from some classic figures: “Alice and her mad-hat friends, / as a gift for my unbirthday, / helped guide me through the walls of shelves— / now I’m bound to find my way.” The literary helpers don’t look like their conventional or Disney counterparts in the illustrations, but all are clearly identified by at least a broad hint or visual cue, like the unnamed “wizard” who swoops in on a broom to knock over a tower labeled “Frogwarts.” Along with playing a bit fast and loose with details (“Perhaps the boy with the magic beans / saved me with his cow…”) the author discards his original’s lip-smacking climax to have the errant snack circling back at last to his book for a comfier sort of happily-ever-after.

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0935-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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