CAMP BUCCANEER

Just because new readers will read just about anything they can decode, doesn’t mean they should have to. This newest offering in Aladdin’s Ready-for-Chapters has many of the hallmarks of a successful tale for new readers: comical storyline and wacky illustrations, generous font, brief chapters, and a heroine who stands up to a bully. Unfortunately, there’s not much to the story. Marlon is on vacation where she hears about a camp for pirates. Her distracted mother signs her up and, through some mildly humorous situations, Marlon learns to be a pirate. When she returns to school, no one believes her pirate camp stories until Peg Leg and Shark Bait see her distress flag, show up, and vouch for her. Though the illustrations are amusing and exaggerated, the story is simply flat. The attempts at pirate dialogue are confusing. “We’ll save that for tomorrow. But today ye’re swinging over to that there boat. ‘Carz sometimes ye’ll have to board another ship and do battle.’ ” Huh? One can almost hear the pitter-patter of second-grade feet up to the teacher for an interpretation of that. Readers who are making the transition to chapter books and who like funny stories might find the work of Pinkwater, Pilkey, and Scieszka more captivating. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-84384-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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THUNDER ROSE

Nolen and Nelson offer a smaller, but no less gifted counterpart to Big Jabe (2000) in this new tall tale. Shortly after being born one stormy night, Rose thanks her parents, picks a name, and gathers lightning into a ball—all of which is only a harbinger of feats to come. Decked out in full cowboy gear and oozing self-confidence from every pore, Rose cuts a diminutive, but heroic figure in Nelson’s big, broad Western scenes. Though she carries a twisted iron rod as dark as her skin and ropes clouds with fencing wire, Rose overcomes her greatest challenge—a pair of rampaging twisters—not with strength, but with a lullaby her parents sang. After turning tornadoes into much-needed rain clouds, Rose rides away, “that mighty, mighty song pressing on the bull’s-eye that was set at the center of her heart.” Throughout, she shows a reflective bent that gives her more dimension than most tall-tale heroes: a doff of the Stetson to her and her creators. (author’s note) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-15-216472-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Whistle/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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