For settings in which pirates must be incorporated into everything

CAPTAIN BLING'S CHRISTMAS PLUNDER

“ ’Twas the night before Christmas and all through the ship, / the pirates were planning a plundering trip.”

And so, to the meter and cadence of “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” Capt. Bling and his crew are blown off course and run aground at the North Pole. Spying all the presents in Santa’s workshop, the pirates storm it and run off with the loot. Sack on his back, Santa and the elves give chase, but “a sack versus swords was a surefire disaster,” and in short order Santa’s being forced to walk the plank. But it turns out he was chasing the pirates because he realized they’ve been neglected all these years and he wanted to make up with some gifts. Capt. Bling and the crew happily accept Santa’s gifts but refuse to give back those they’ve stolen, instead hitching the reindeer to their bow and flying off into the night. Of course, they are doing this so they can deliver the toys themselves. It’s an anemic tale, and children will wonder at Santa’s decision to reward the pirates after they steal all the toys. In McClurkan’s illustrations Santa is white, Capt. Bling is brown, and both elves and pirates are multiracial. (In attire, the elves look more than a bit like those in the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer animated TV special.)

For settings in which pirates must be incorporated into everything . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1063-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Just the thing for anyone with a Grinch-y tree of their own in the yard.

THE HALLOWEEN TREE

A grouchy sapling on a Christmas tree farm finds that there are better things than lights and decorations for its branches.

A Grinch among the other trees on the farm is determined never to become a sappy Christmas tree—and never to leave its spot. Its determination makes it so: It grows gnarled and twisted and needle-less. As time passes, the farm is swallowed by the suburbs. The neighborhood kids dare one another to climb the scary, grumpy-looking tree, and soon, they are using its branches for their imaginative play, the tree serving as a pirate ship, a fort, a spaceship, and a dragon. But in winter, the tree stands alone and feels bereft and lonely for the first time ever, and it can’t look away from the decorated tree inside the house next to its lot. When some parents threaten to cut the “horrible” tree down, the tree thinks, “Not now that my limbs are full of happy children,” showing how far it has come. Happily for the tree, the children won’t give up so easily, and though the tree never wished to become a Christmas tree, it’s perfectly content being a “trick or tree.” Martinez’s digital illustrations play up the humorous dichotomy between the happy, aspiring Christmas trees (and their shoppers) and the grumpy tree, and the diverse humans are satisfyingly expressive.

Just the thing for anyone with a Grinch-y tree of their own in the yard. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7335-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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SCAREDY SQUIRREL HAS A BIRTHDAY PARTY

From the Scaredy Squirrel series , Vol. 5

When Scaredy Squirrel plans a party, he concentrates on maximum security, not maximum fun. His checklist: "Confirm date of birth; pick a safe location; choose party colors; get tuxedo dry-cleaned; prepare cake recipe; practice breathing (to blow up balloons/blow out candles); mail party invitation to myself." That's right—there’s only one guest at Scaredy's birthday party, and it's himself. But when his chum Buddy sends him a birthday card, he reconsiders his guest list to include his pal, even making the momentous decision to hold his party on the ground instead of in his tree. Replete with the lists and diagrams that are this OCD rodent's hallmarks, the story unfolds with both humor and some useful etiquette tips. From conversational gambits (good: "If you were a tree, what type of tree would you be?"; bad: "Is that a muskrat on your head? Oops... it's a toupee") to the "dos and don'ts of partying" (do: sit quietly; don't: double-dip), kids will find much to laugh at and think about. Typically (for a Scaredy adventure), despite a plan so complete it includes tooth-brushing breaks, a surprise happens—party animals show up! Watt’s wry digital illustrations make the most of the perceived mayhem, using a host of graphic conventions to tell her story. There's no question it's a formula by now, but it's still a winning one. Many happy returns, Scaredy. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-55453-468-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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