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“The Pirate Jamboree”

  • By Mark Teague
  • Best for ages 7 – 12

You really can’t go wrong with a title form Mark Teague. If you are a fan of the “Dear Mrs. LaRue” series, you’ll see a familiar theme used in this new tale. Teague uses his lively and entertaining illustrations to delve into the fantasy.

In “The Pirate Jamboree,” we begin by seeing the players — neighborhood kids on bikes and in normal clothes — gathering to play. The rest of the book allows us to see what they see. A pirate adventure is at hand with Bluebeard, Blackbeard, Beigebeard, Eyepatch Sue, Peg Leg Jones and more. Told in verse, the rhyme and rhythm could use some work, but the overall story is a fun romp through childhood imagination — at least until a broom-wielding mom from the S.S. Clean Your Room shows up.

What’s good: Teague’s illustrations are always captivating and keep readers occupied and engaged.

What’s bad: There’s a little too much nostalgia and too little chaotic childhood rambunctiousness.

“The Hole Story of the Doughnut”

  • By Pat Miller
  • Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch
  • Best for ages 6 – 9

Just about every child in America knows what a doughnut is, but very few know its history. When Gregory Hanson was 14, he left his home in Maine to become a cabin boy on a schooner. It was 1843, so it was not seen as out of the ordinary. Hanson sought adventure and fortune on the high seas — and he found it. Hanson moved up the ranks quickly, eventually becoming a ship’s captain. He was even awarded a medal for heroism at sea. It was in his days as a cook’s assistant that Hanson created the first doughnut. The sailors on his ship usually ate deep-fried cakes for breakfast. They sat so heavy in their stomachs the sailors called them sinkers. But Hanson had a clever idea that changed that — and much more.

What’s good: The lively illustrations encourage readers to continue and learning.

What’s bad: I wish we could have read more about the humorous doughnut creation myths.

“Barnacle Is Bored”

  • By Jonathan Fenske
  • Best for ages 3 – 5

“Barnacle is Bored” seems like an obvious title, since all a barnacle does is sit in one place. But this simple idea delivers a clever story with a message that won’t be lost on anyone. Barnacle is bored with his life. It’s the same thing every day. He sits and he watches. He gets hot. He gets cold. He gets wet. Barnacle wishes he could be like the fish he sees swimming in the waters around him. Then a big fish swims by. The fish’s actions change Barnacle’s mind. He goes from a glass half empty guy to a glass half full guy very quickly.

What’s good: The illustrations and text are simple, direct and funny — great for young readers.

What’s bad: It’s so simple that reading the book in the store may be enough.

There’s more!

Find more reviews by McGeath Freeman here.

Find more at www.upstateparent.com

Upstate moms and dads: Looking for things to do with kids in Greenville or Spartanburg? You’ll find lots of ideas at www.upstateparent.com.

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