Poppy the Pirate Dog

Poppy the Pirate Dog

by Liz Kessler, Mike Phillips

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Best-selling author Liz Kessler makes her first foray into early fiction with a funny tale about an aspiring pirate dog who is afraid of boats.

Poppy the dalmatian can’t wait to go on a seaside vacation with her family. And when they tie a skull-and-crossbones scarf around her neck, she’s sure a pirate’s life of adventure on the open seas

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Best-selling author Liz Kessler makes her first foray into early fiction with a funny tale about an aspiring pirate dog who is afraid of boats.

Poppy the dalmatian can’t wait to go on a seaside vacation with her family. And when they tie a skull-and-crossbones scarf around her neck, she’s sure a pirate’s life of adventure on the open seas awaits. But to be a pirate dog, Poppy must find her perfect pirate ship. Unfortunately, boats bob up and down a lot. Waves splash over the side. Strange creatures live in the water. After trying — and failing — to be a brave pirate dog on a fishing boat, a seal-spotting cruise, a pedal boat, and a speedboat, Poppy has almost given up. Will she manage to find her pirate ship before the family heads back home? From New York Times best-selling author Liz Kessler comes a full-color early reader for adventurous young scalawags and their pirate pooches.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kessler (the Emily Windsnap series) ventures into early chapter books with a chipper story about a would-be seafaring Dalmatian. Poppy is excited about spending a week at the seaside with her humans—and proud of her new neckerchief featuring a skull-and-crossbones pattern (“Don’t mess with me, she thought. I’m a pirate dog”). The family’s boat-centric vacation agenda seems well suited to Poppy’s new life as a pirate, until she discovers that bobbing vessels, splashing waves, and seals that resemble sea monsters aren’t at all to her liking (“Poppy wasn’t feeling very much like a pirate dog anymore”). The narrative slips in and out of Poppy’s mind to humorous effect, easily capturing her alternating bravado and timidity. Recalling Quentin Blake’s work, Phillips’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations fill in the narrative’s blanks and flesh out Poppy’s persona (one moment Poppy is strutting proudly down the boardwalk with a look of roguish determination in her eye; the next, she’s cowering under a berth on a boat). Punchy dialogue and ample artwork nicely gear this to recent picture book graduates. Ages 5–9. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
Poppy, the Dalmatian, is going to the beach with her family for a week. Once they arrive, Poppy is so anxious to look around that she pulls and tugs on her lease causing a sales display scarf to fall to the ground. It is black and white with skulls and crossbones. Dad buys the scarf and Suzy ties it around Poppy's neck. She is now a pirate dog. The family decides to take four boat trips. Poppy is excited. Pirates belong on boats. She dreams of her adventures on the high seas, but it turns out that getting on the wobbling fishing boat and being splashed with water is no fun. Pirates do not like fishing boats. The next day the sightseeing boat takes them to observe seals. Poppy hides under the bench seat thinking the seals are sea monsters. The paddle boat is worse than the first two. Poppy keeps falling into the water. Poppy is disconsolate. Then the family finds the perfect boat for a pirate dog. A tugboat is exactly the right size; it is not too fast; and it does not go near sea monsters. The perfect end to the family vacation. The active, colorful illustrations enhance the text. A good choice for beginning chapter book readers. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—This is a sweet story about a Dalmatian named Poppy and her seaside vacation with her family. Divided into small chapters, the tale starts with Poppy getting a pirate scarf at a local shop. Once it is tied around her neck, she takes on the demeanor of her inner pirate and begins searching for the perfect vessel. As their vacation unfolds, Mom, Dad, and the kids enjoy a fishing excursion, pedal boats, speedboats, and even a boat that spots "sea monsters," none of which suit the pup. It is only when her humans do a bit of research that they come up with the ideal way to spend their last day. "We've found Poppy's perfect pirate ship! It's exactly the right size, it's not too fast, and there are no big scary sea monsters." Phillips's playful illustrations rendered in ink and watercolors provide strong context for assistance with word recognition, comprehension, and fluency. In the same vein as Cynthia Rylant's "Henry and Mudge" books (S & S), this well-crafted title is sure to be a hit with early readers.—Melissa Smith, Royal Oak Public Library, MI
Kirkus Reviews
A family takes a seaside vacation with their Dalmatian, Poppy, who knows all about pirates from listening to books read by her young owner, Tim. When the friendly dog chooses a skull-and-crossbones bandanna for herself, the family dubs her Poppy the Pirate Dog. They decide to take Poppy on a different sort of boat ride each day, but the dog has issues with all the boats: too fast, too slippery or too scary (the seals must be sea monsters!). The family keeps trying to find a pirate ship for Poppy, finally finding an old, red tugboat that suits persnickety Poppy perfectly, and they all enjoy a ride together with a pirate flag flying. Poppy is an appealing pooch, but there isn't much conflict or drama here, nor any pirate talk or swashbuckling adventure. The text is divided into short chapters, with a large font and lots of white space around the text blocks to assist new readers. Illustrations in watercolor and ink provide an amusing personality for Poppy as she resists all the different boat rides and eventually feels like a big, brave dog. An adequate tale with the pull of pirates and pups, but alas, me hearties, no buried treasure here. (Early reader. 6-8)

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Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Poppy the Pirate Dog Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Liz Kessler is the author of the beloved Emily Windsnap series, as well as the Philippa Fisher series and the novels A Year Without Autumn and North of Nowhere. She says that Poppy the Pirate Dog is based on her own beautiful dog, Poppy. "After we moved near the ocean, we bought her a skull-and-crossbones scarf," she says. "But the funny thing is that she’s a bit scared of water, and that was the inspiration behind this story." Liz Kessler lives in Cornwall, England.

Mike Phillips has been illustrating everything from picture books to the gruesome Horrible Histories series for almost twenty years. He lives in a small fishing village in England with his family and thinks his own dog, who is also named Poppy — believe it or not! — may want to be a pirate dog as well.

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