Vague martial arts platitudes told but not really taught.

THE BELT OF FIRE

From the Julie Black Belt series

Chua’s energetic cartoon scenes of children in graceful martial arts poses fail to animate this ponderous tale of dissonance in kung fu class.

Rival yellow belts Julie and new student Brandon have thrown one another badly off their rhythms on the mat. Seeing this, their instructor, or Sifu, pairs them up and sends them outdoors for private lessons with his own teacher, Master Zhou—an elderly woman, in a very nice twist. In time, the two students become good partners, regain their mental balance and go on to ace their orange-belt tests. Rather than mention specific techniques, Chin intersperses hyperbolic lines such as “Brandon struck like a lion. Julie soared like an eagle.” Portentous statements include “Though sparks may fly, two blades can sharpen each other,” and “Kung fu means strengthening your own discipline and ability.” In a subplot capped by an anticlimactic, clumsily handled surprise, the author shoehorns in episodes from a parallel-themed martial arts movie for which Master Zhou apparently turns out to have been a technical adviser. Chua’s images of figures with wide, bright eyes—and in Julie’s case, a pink kitty hairpin—add plenty of visual syrup but not enough to make this palatable.

Vague martial arts platitudes told but not really taught. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59702-079-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Immedium

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure.

THE PIRATE PIG

It’s not truffles but doubloons that tickle this porcine wayfarer’s fancy.

Funke and Meyer make another foray into chapter-book fare after Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). Here, mariner Stout Sam and deckhand Pip eke out a comfortable existence on Butterfly Island ferrying cargo to and fro. Life is good, but it takes an unexpected turn when a barrel washes ashore containing a pig with a skull-and-crossbones pendant around her neck. It soon becomes clear that this little piggy, dubbed Julie, has the ability to sniff out treasure—lots of it—in the sea. The duo is pleased with her skills, but pride goeth before the hog. Stout Sam hands out some baubles to the local children, and his largess attracts the unwanted attention of Barracuda Bill and his nasty minions. Now they’ve pignapped Julie, and it’s up to the intrepid sailors to save the porker and their own bacon. The succinct word count meets the needs of kids looking for early adventure fare. The tale is slight, bouncy, and amusing, though Julie is never the piratical buccaneer the book’s cover seems to suggest. Meanwhile, Meyer’s cheery watercolors are as comfortable diagramming the different parts of a pirate vessel as they are rendering the dread pirate captain himself.

A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37544-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Eeney meeney miney moe, catch this series before it goes! (Adventure. 7-9)

DANGER! TIGER CROSSING

From the Fantastic Frame series , Vol. 1

Two kids get up close and personal with some great works of art in this first in a new series.

Tiger Brooks is used to his little sister’s fantastical stories. So when the top-hatted orange pig she describes turns out to be not only real, but a next-door neighbor, Tiger enlists the help of his kooky new friend, Luna, to investigate. It turns out the pig works for the reclusive painter Viola Dots. Years ago a magical picture frame swallowed up her only son, and she’s searched for him in artworks ever since. When Tiger’s tinkering starts the magic up again, he and Luna are sucked into a reproduction of Henri Rousseau’s Surprised! or Tiger in a Tropical Storm, hungry predator and all. After meeting and failing to rescue Viola’s son in this adventure, the series is set up for the intrepid pair to infiltrate other classic paintings in the future. Backmatter provides information on the real Rousseau and his life. Oliver keeps the plot itself snappy and peppy. While there are few surprises, there’s also an impressive lack of lag time. This is helped in no small part by Kallis’ art, which goes from pen-and-ink drawings to full-blown color images once the kids cross over into the painting. Tiger is a white boy, and Luna is a dark-haired Latina.

Eeney meeney miney moe, catch this series before it goes! (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-448-48087-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more