A solid story with illustrations that don’t quite measure up.

DANIELA AND THE PIRATE GIRLS

From the Égalité series

Daniela, girl captain of a fearsome pirate ship, contends with a band of pirate girls whose reputation is outstripping hers.

Daniela’s ship, the Black Croc, receives word that some merfolk are trapped in a cave. They heroically travel and dive to free them…only to discover that the Fearless Piranhas beat them to it. Daniela sets out to find this all-girl band of pirates to see if they’re as great as the merfolk say they are. On their quest, they discover more people and animals who’ve been saved by the Fearless Piranhas—who have by now obtained the lost treasure for which the Black Croc had been searching. Their pursuit carries them into a storm, where they find the Fearless Piranhas’ ship has been overturned. Despite their differences, Daniela and her crew work with a whale to rescue their rivals. The two bands reconcile and go on to have amazing adventures together, including sharing the treasure. Pirate-loving children are bound to enjoy this fun story of jealousy and overcoming differences. The brightly colored illustrations are busy assemblages of goofy faces, with little space for the eye to rest on most spreads. The multiracial cast features a white Daniela and a black captain of the Piranhas, both with orange hair, though some of the depictions of black and Asian characters sway toward the stereotypical. The book is a Spanish import, and the Spanish-language original publishes simultaneously in the U.S.

A solid story with illustrations that don’t quite measure up. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-84-17673-27-7

Page Count: 44

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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An action-packed romp.

EVEN SUPERHEROES HAVE BAD DAYS

Superheroes deal with their emotions.

What happens when the empowered have a terrible day? Becker posits that while they could go on destructive sprees and wreak havoc, the caped crusaders and men and women of steel harness their energies and direct it in constructive ways. Little readers filled with energy and emotion may learn to draw similar conclusions, but the author doesn’t hammer home the message. The author has much more fun staging scenes of chaos and action, and Kaban clearly has a ball illustrating them. Superheroes could use laser vision to burn down forests and weather powers to freeze beachgoers. They could ignore crime sprees and toss vehicles across state lines. These hypothetical violent spectacles are softened by the cartoonish stylizations and juxtaposed with pages filled with heroic, “true” efforts such as rounding up criminals and providing fun at an amusement park. The illustrations are energetic and feature multicultural heroes. The vigorous illustrations make this a read for older children, as the busyness could overwhelm very little ones. While the book’s formula recalls How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and its many sequels, the relative scarcity of superhero picture books means there’s a place on the shelf for it.

An action-packed romp. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1394-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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