Shiver Me Timbers! (Oakley Graham, illus by Nina Caniac, Big Sky Publishing)
This is a rollicking tale about a crew of pirates led by the peg-legged, hook-handed Captain Black. They sail the high seas looking for treasure, through typhoons and storms, past mermaids and flying fish, until the boat meets its fate at the tentacles of a gigantic octopus. The crew manage to surf their way to safety, but it is the end for the greedy Captain Black. The text is amusing with interesting vocabulary, and told in rhyme with a three-line chorus at the end of each double page. This makes it a good choice for reading aloud, and the chorus helps to create a sea-shanty atmosphere. The slick and cartoon-like illustrations are dynamic and colourful, with plenty of nice contrasts from page to page; an atmospheric night scene under a full moon stands out in particular. On some pages, the type is not set in straight lines, but wavy ones, which contributes to the feeling of being on a boat. A glossary of interesting pirate facts on the final pages adds depth to the book; facts such as pirates believed that wearing earrings would improve their eyesight, they didn’t live for long and they didn’t really walk the gangplank (although they do in the book). All in all, this is an entertaining book for children aged approximately four to eight years old.
Louise Pfanner is an author, illustrator and bookseller