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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Kraken Crew by Dan Malster is a children's fantasy picture book for young readers who are up for a tale far different than the standard bedtime story. The book begins with an introduction to a ship full of marauding anti-heroes who, by appearance, are all quite young themselves except the aged Captain in a pirate hat and twisted violet beard. The mission? Stealing gold from dragons, of course! Each has their role to play on the voyage, from the Banshee fending off siren songs to Storm boy and the elf-witch, who make a ghost ship disappear and know how to handle the creature who emerges from bubbles that are not a ship's fart. But it is the summoning of the Captain that steals the show and an unlikely ally that saves them all.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a bit of a goth mom. So books with a bit of creative witchy 'magick' and actual monsters ripping through the pages will not scare off my little reader. A genuine bedtime squirm is fun for us but consider yourself warned. I loved every inch of Dan Malster's artistry and storytelling in Kraken Crew. Jewel-toned creatures and children who look like they haven't showered in a year—yes, please. Lyrical sing-song style narratives with potty humor and a Mount Doom with charred bodies and the skeletons of unsuccessful dead pirates—again, yes. The ultimate glory of a crew that fights back against the evils of the sea through teamwork, creative thinking, and assistance from those they've assisted before? Five stars and another read tomorrow night. We love Kraken Crew!