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Monday, August 9, 2010

Pirate's Guide to First Grade, written by James Preller and illustrated by Greg Ruth. Feiwel and Friends, H B Fenn, 2010. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"Me great scurvy dog slurped me kisser
when I was tryin' t' get me winks!
While I was wipin' the slime from me gob,
I remembered 'twas the first day of school."

Oh, I am going to love reading this book in classrooms this fall! It isn't because that 'great scrurvy dog' looks just like my granddog, Percy. But, that adds some appeal, I must admit.

The greatest appeal comes from the language and the fun. It is full out pirate conversation throughout the whole of the story and is a perfect readaloud! This boy is a pirate through and through and his imagination turns each moment of the day into the kind of adventure that any pirate worth his salt would conjure up.

He's up and off to 'shine his snappers' (brush his teeth) and put on 'me hook, me boots and my three corner hat -'. Them are the only clothes fit for this pirate. Once breakfast is done, he's off to catch his boat and head for school. Imagine the surprise when his first grade teacher's name is Silver...and she has a lot in store for her new crew. Hard work and constant motion leaves all new students tired by recess. With a full out run and some mischief that results in renewed energy and one of the buccaneer's walking the plank, he's ready to go back to work. As the day draws to an end, it is Old Silver who hands him a marked map that leads surely to the greatest treasure of all...the library.

I love the double story told in the illustrations. As our young narrator imagines for himself the grand sea adventure of his first day, he is joined by a motley crew of marauders who keep watch, delighting in the goings-on and helping when help is needed. The full color art that depicts our young hero's day is mirrored by the sea robbers, fashioned in sepia tones but always present. Homework is added on the back endpapers so that enthralled listeners might learn the lingo and set themselves a course to being errant pirates themselves.

Don't miss the back cover portrait...that's our Percy!

AVAST, ME HEARTIES! You'll be needin' this book!

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