THE BIRD SHADOW

Ike and Mem are pressured into visiting the Hawkins place, an abandoned and haunted house on the outskirts of town, but find that they are in for more than just an adventure. As Ike and Mem and their friends step on to the property, they notice a shed in back full of pigeons. Dave breaks a window to try to free them, but the loud crash frightens all the children into running away. Mem tells Ike that she saw someone watching from the window and they return to investigate—only to find themselves face to face with Mr. Hawkins. He is unhappy with the broken window and asks Ike and Mem for their phone number, but neither can remember it. He ominously tells them that he will be in touch. Ike’s conscience will not let him rest once he returns home, but instead of a beating heart, he hears the steady “Coo, coo, coo” of a pigeon. Ike and Mem find that Mr. Hawkins has sent a pigeon as a reminder and they eventually tell their parents the whole story, prompting a second and friendlier visit to the Hawkins place. Periodic pencil drawings accompany this very quiet, somewhat thoughtful tale. Young readers will want to stay tuned for other volumes of the adventures of Ike and Mem that are sure to follow. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 30, 2001

ISBN: 0-8234-1670-4

Page Count: 55

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2002

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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

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ZATHURA

A trite, knock-off sequel to Jumanji (1981). The “Jumanji” box distracts Walter Budwing away from beating up on his little brother Danny, but it’s Danny who discovers the Zathura board inside—and in no time, Earth is far behind, a meteor has smashed through the roof, and a reptilian Zyborg pirate is crawling through the hole. Each throw of the dice brings an ominous new development, portrayed in grainy, penciled freeze frames featuring sculptured-looking figures in constricted, almost claustrophobic settings. The angles of view are, as always, wonderfully dramatic, but not only is much of the finer detail that contributed to Jumanji’s astonishing realism missing, the spectacular damage being done to the Budwings’ house as the game progresses is, by and large, only glimpsed around the picture edges. Naturally, having had his bacon repeatedly saved by his younger sibling’s quick thinking, once Walter falls through a black hole to a time preceding the game’s start, his attitude toward Danny undergoes a sudden, radical transformation. Van Allsburg’s imagination usually soars right along with his accomplished art—but here, both are just running in place. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-25396-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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