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Reviews of Pirateria and Shiver Me Timbers!

Pirateria by Calef BrownPirateria: The Wonderful Plunderful Pirate Emporium
by Calef Brown; illus. by the author
Primary    Atheneum    40 pp.
7/12    978-1-4169-7878-7    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4424-3897-2    $12.99

Brown presents a book-length advertisement for an imaginary emporium of all things pirate. Whether you need rags or pantaloons, spinnakers or planks, you can be sure to find them at Pirateria. With specials like “buy one galleon, get one free!” it’s hard to imagine any self-respecting buccaneer passing this store by. Nonsense is the order of the day, with silly wordplay (“at Pirateria we put the ‘arg’ in ‘bargain’!”) and amusing rhymes (“our helpful sales staff / may look like riffraff / and need a quick bath, / but despite being gruff / they know their stuff”). Disclaimers are also sprinkled throughout: customers are reminded that “pirates’ lifetimes may vary” and that “rescue [is] neither implied nor guaranteed.” Brown’s distinctive acrylics, in all shades of greens and blues, play well with the characters, who are more Brooklyn hipster than Barbary buccaneer. But that’s most of the fun here — the pokes at modern hucksterism as well as the cultural fascination with pirates (don’t forget Talk like a Pirate Day on September 19). An entertaining romp, even for landlubbers.

Shiver Me Timbers!: Pirate Poems & Paintings
by Douglas Florian; 
illus. by Robert Neubecker
Primary    Beach Lane/Simon    32 pp.
8/12    978-1-4424-1321-4    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4424-5712-6    $12.99

Florian provides young pirate lovers with a profusion of arrrghs and ahoy mateys, enough to keep their piratephilia alive for a long time. Using stereotypical pirate-speak, each poem explores a familiar aspect of pirate lore and takes it to a new level of rhythm and rhyme, usually with a final line calculated to evoke a chuckle. In “Pirates Wear Patches,” rhyming couplets list pirate clothing and accessories, from patches to puffy shirts to tricorne hats. The final stanza reads, “Pirates have parrots / And eat alligator. / Pirates shoot first / And then ask questions later.” Sometimes the poems veer into the deliciously disgusting. “Pirates’ Meal” ends with the crowd-pleasing line, “Methinks that I will puke.” Neubecker’s digitally colored India-ink illustrations play well with the light verse. While some of the images feature close-ups of faces, many of a pirate (or just his bloodshot eyes on a black background) staring directly at the reader, there is nothing to be afraid of here, and the reader knows that these poems are balanced between light gore and outright silliness.

From the September/October 2012 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Robin Smith About Robin Smith

Robin Smith is a second-grade teacher at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a reviewer for Kirkus and The Horn Book Magazine and has served on multiple award committees.

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