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Publishers Weekly Review
Successfully training his sights on a middle-grade audience, the acclaimed Nix (the Abhorsen trilogy) presents a quartet of wacky yarns set in fantasy-laced worlds and topped off with plenty of wordplay. In the first, Peter is on his way to return DVDs to the rental store when four rats dressed as pirates steal them. ("We be video pirates, and those there discs will fetch us a pretty sum.") A crew of Navy rats escorts the boy down the sewer to "the Neverworld," where he helps defeat the bread-wielding pirate Blackbread. The second caper stars a bored princess, daughter of a former "full-time warrior maiden" and a wizard, whose quest for adventure brings her inside a "magical clockwork monster" that she erroneously expects is planning to attack her kingdom. A third tale introduces a boy living in an orphanage who finally finds his parents after escaping adoption by pirates and the reach of a pair of "hideously squidgy, lumpy, slimy, sweaty, yellow-tentacled, bulbous-eyed aliens," and the final story centers on one of 17 sisters who helps her town face a sea serpent that is damaging boats, capturing girls and turning them into "penguinmaids." Biggs (the Shredderman series) renders even the most monstrous creatures as ludicrous rather than gruesome in his lighthearted cartoons, laid out here with wit and a good eye for visual rhythm. Ages 7-11. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 3-5-These four gently tongue-in-cheek adventures pit clever youngsters against unusual creatures-pirate rats who steal DVDs, aliens, a mechanical dragon, and a misunderstood sea serpent. Each time, clueless adult authorities ignore or are stymied by the supposed menace, but the hero is able to resolve the situation successfully and nonviolently. There is a strong emphasis on creativity and individual initiative, and a gentle reminder that brains are better than brawn. Black-and-white cartoon illustrations complement the lighthearted tone. The positive message and amusing stories make this a good choice for younger fantasy fans.-Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
"Nix, best known as the creator of the Old Kingdom series, beginning with Sabriel (1995), and the Keys to the Kingdom series, which starts with Mister Monday (2003), shows his lighter side in an entertaining collection of four fantasy stories. These include Blackbread sic the Pirate, in which a boy on his way to the video store shrinks to pint-size and agrees to join a band of swashbuckling rats, and Serena and the Sea Serpent, in which a girl volunteers to be sacrificed to a sea serpent and discovers the very different advantages of being a know-it-all and of being a penguin. Divided into chapters and fine for reading aloud, the stories feature bright, level-headed children in situations that call for courage in the face of surprising and even fantastic circumstances. Droll ink drawings with gray washes illustrate these fresh, childlike, and engaging stories."--"Phelan, Carolyn" Copyright 2007 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
These four lighthearted fantasy and science-fiction tales feature heroic children in extremely silly adventures. In "Blackbread the Pirate," Peter needs to rescue his rented DVDs from video pirates. Straightforward enough--but the video pirates are cutlass-wielding rats aboard the pirate ship Nasty Cupboard, and Peter defeats them with the help of a valiant rat navy and a massive wheel of stinky cheese. Princess Rinda, of "The Princess and the Beastly Beast," goes looking for adventure and finds it in the form of a clockwork monster. "Bill the Inventor" is an orphan boy who was found wrapped in a big banana skin and who deftly avoids getting adopted by all the wrong sorts of parents, the kind who aren't inventors: pirates, a witch and a wizard, space aliens. And brilliant Serena of "Serena and the Sea Serpent" turns into a "penguinmaid" in her quest to rescue the people of Blubber Point from a sea serpent. Thoroughly ridiculous and hugely enjoyable. (Fantasy. 8-10) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.