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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pirate Bob, written by Kathryn Lasky and illustrated by David Clark. Charlesbridge, 2008. $9.95 ages 4 and up

"Pirate Bob is an expert in wrecking wheels and rudders. He is fast. He is exact with his cutlass. He leaps over the rails. Others swarm aboard with him. They carry daggers, pistols and hand grenades made by filling old bottles with gunpowder."

It's 'TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY' and I'm hoping you will take the time to find the pirate books in your library and share them with avid listeners. There are so many out there to enjoy! I want to tell you about this one which is new to me, and great fun!

AAARGH! Nothin' Bob likes more than treasure! His nose itches when gold is near and right now that nose is itching. He lies in wait with his captain and crew, beneath a pirate's moon, for a ship to plunder. As we wait with him we learn much about the life of a pirate. We are introduced to Bob's friend Yellow Jack, who has scurvy and a yellow tinge to his skin. He has been a pirate longer than Bob, and therefore has more treasure, which he has buried in a secret place. Bob is concerned that Jack might die because of poor health before he tells someone (perhaps a best friend) where that booty is buried. That would be a real disaster!

We learn that pirates work hard to learn their trade, and become skilled at certain tasks. When they attack the galleon Concordia everyone has a job to do to ensure success and thus, untold wealth. Once the ship's cargo has been plundered and taken aboard their own ship, the Blackbird, the spoils are divided according to rank and seniority. Jack, once again, gets more than Jack. While Jack thinks he should be happy he is feeling a bit of unease about his life...the dangers, the constant threat of capture and incarceration or death, the growing wealth that must be hidden to protect it from others' greed and even the uncertainty of friendship.

The expressive, and humorous, watercolor illustrations bring the pirates to full and glorious life for readers...with extreme close-ups and much action. While they are mean looking and very greedy, they are also vulnerable and thoughtful. But they want what we all want...friendship and love. They may live to loot unsuspecting ships and terrify other seamen; but, they have hearts filled with wishes for a good, and long, life. Despite the many dangers, they do their work and revel it their successes.

Pair this with one of my favorite pirate books by Mem Fox called Tough Boris (Harcourt, 1994) and you can't go wrong!

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