Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
These 12 stories are so inventive that the reader can rarely see beyond the next curve. In ``Sailor Jack and the Twenty Orphans,'' for example, the title character takes to piracy so that he can become rich enough to adopt Tom and the other 19 chaps at the orphanage. But the other pirates disdain Jack's fastidious ways and maroon him on an island. One night a cave opens and out pops a woman named Emily wearing pearls and seaweed. The island turns into a boat, and Jack and Emily sail to the orphanage where they marry and, in exchange for her pearls, adopt the 20 boys. Other startling entries feature a boy who bounces like a ball, orphans who are tended by birds, and a mouse who ``thinks dog'' to defend himself from a cat. The writing crackles with dry wit: ``Jack answered quickly and grammatically, `It is I.' '' Smith's blithe but bland vignettes seem an odd mate for such risk-taking storytelling, but Mahy herself provides color enough to compensate. Ages 5-9. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
K-Gr 3-The alliterative title gives a clue to what's inside-12 short, short stories-and like a syncopated rhythm, they're slightly off-beat, zany, and also uneven in quality and appeal. However, all are inventive, imaginative, and pure Mahy. The first, ``Poodlum Hoodlum,'' about a boy who eventually acquires the pet of his dreams, may be the best and most entertaining selection. Of the 11 tales that follow, all but one have been previously published, but few are available in the U.S. Although some are 20 years old, each retains the enchantment, magic, and suspension of belief to hook a new generation of listeners. Most children will delight in an island that becomes a boat; royalty who live in a broom closet; and a boy who becomes a bouncy red rubber ball. All of the stories are told in exuberant, descriptive language. Smith's watercolors appear on every page, scattered in different positions within and outside the text, engaging the eye and keeping interest alive. In one story, a nearly grown king whose strict upbringing has forbidden toys summons the royal librarian for advice on the perfect plaything-after all, ``Librarians are meant to know everything.'' The stories are perfect read alouds.-Harriett Fargnoli, Great Neck Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Horn Book Review
Kings, wizards, pirates, orphans, and an assortment of animals grace this fanciful collection, which is great for bedtime reading. Mahy's skill as a storyteller and Smith's well-placed color illustrations will carry readers through to the last page. From HORN BOOK 1994, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
A dozen whimsically offbeat tales: two new, the others recycled from earlier books that didn't, apparently, appear in the US. As is her wont, Mahy begins with ingredients of proven appeal: characters such as pirates, animals, orphans, or other not-so-ordinary kids; situations like wanting a pet, being able to fly, getting involved in magical transformations, or simply instigating a celebration. Then, she stirs them up and elaborates on them with her own inimitably bracing logic and preposterous wit. Smith's merry pen-and-watercolor sketches intermingle with the text on every page, catching the comical, childlike tone precisely. (But why do the one-handed clocks that head each tale lack minute hands?) Just right as readalouds or for younger independent readers. (Fiction. 4-10)