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Thomson's unpredictable verse should be rehearsed before being read aloud to maximize its impact and its humor. For example, this is one such bouncy passage: "A skull keeps watch from our flag of bones./Our swords are steel and our hearts are stone/as we send our foes to Davy Jones./We are pirates, pirates, ho!" The language is littered with terms like "thieving," "lying," "rascally," and "cut-throat"-plus the ever-popular "avast" and "ahoy." Gilpin's wacky cartoons have a retro, take-no-prisoners abandon. The motley crew members run up riggings, make enemies walk the plank, drive their ship through perilous seas, and have a generally threatening appearance-until one takes a closer look at their faces and postures, which are just plain adorable. The most conspicuous dent in the pirates' armor presents itself in the gloom of night, when they tell each other ghost stories by the light of the eerie, cratered moon. Eyes widen, mouths fall open, muscles tense: "We are pirates, pirates-YIKES!" Although pirate books abound, this funny, fabulously illustrated rhyme is certainly worth adding.-Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY
Posted July 9, 2013
Ever since becoming a parent I’ve bought and read more children’s books then I thought possible. And all of this before by son has learned how to talk properly! I’ve realized that with the wealth of titles and content out there it can be hard for parents to decide which books would be best worth their time and money. However, of all the books I’ve gotten this far I don’t think I’ve personally enjoyed any single one more than this book about Pirates. Pirates are, of course, one of the little boys’ favorite characters, but even as an adult I was able to really enjoy going through this book. It’s written in verse, and a pretty good verse at that. There is really no plotline as such, but I am not really bothered by it. The narrative voice is very original and authentic. The book manages to strike the perfect balance between the fearsome and ghoulish on one hand, and innocently playful on the other. This is probably one book that I see myself rereading often over the next few years.
Another thing that I really loved about this book are the illustrations. The characters are both whimsical and mildly menacing looking. I love the crisp illustrative style of this book a lot, and will probably look into other works illustrated by Stephen Gilpin.
I only wish that I got the hardcover version of this book. My paperback edition is already showing too many signs of wear and use.
Overall, this is a wonderful children’s book that can be fun to read for both the parents and the children. Highly recommended.