THE BOSSY PIRATE
by John Steven Gurney
ages 4 to 8
It's mutiny on the high seas in this light-hearted lesson in playing well with others. When Salty Jack pretends his bedroom is a pirate ship, his friends help him tie ropes to serve as rigging and sheets to serve as sails. Crew mates Scallywag Sanjay and Barnacle Bob hoist the sails, and soon the friends are cruising past flying fish and secret caves. But their daring adventure goes to the dogs when Captain Salty Jack barks out too many orders and Millie the Mermaid abandons ship, setting an example for the rest of the crew. When Jack discovers it's not as much fun playing alone, he must figure out a way to get his friends back. Children will discover, along with Captain Jack, that an adventure can be even more thrilling when everyone is allowed to share their creative ideas, and even steer the ship.
No seafaring adventure is too dangerous for this crew except, perhaps, the captain's attitude.
In the attic, Jack has the perfect set-up for a pirate adventure, and he, of course, is captain. He sets to sea on his own, but then spies, one by one, his friends passing outside and invites them aboard. Soon, an entire crew is scrubbing deck, hoisting sails and exploring the vast waters. Except no one is allowed to steer outside of the captain. Soon, the crew isn't nearly as happy as the ought to be.
When I read the blurb on this one, I was afraid that it might be too strong on the message end. I was happily surprised. Imagination unfolds beautifully in these pages. It starts with the wonderful attic scenes, showing the fun play space Jack has to work with...simple, but shows how imagination can take flight. Then, the ocean scenes come to life, and what a treat they are! It invites kids to start up their own adventures (on the sea or otherwise) and prods with ideas and inspirations on how they can let their fantasies unwind. And much of this is thanks to the wonderfully done illustrations. Along with the text, they bring the book to life.
The author has done a great job at weaving in pirate language in a childlike manner by throwing in nonsense words along the way. All sound pirate-ish, although some aren't really. To help know which words truly originate from the pirating world, there is a glossary at the end of the book, which explains them as well as points out the nonsense words. It's a fun mix.
There's a great cast of characters. My favorite, the mermaid, added a lovely touch and twisted the beginning of the message part in with clever finesse. The solution comes across very naturally, while still being clear...something which is hard to accomplish.
This is a lovely read especially for pirate and imagination friends. The adventure is fun and inspirational, and appropriate for read-alouds as well as kids who have a slightly better grip on reading. It has a lovely message, but this does not drown out the fun and excitement pure fantasy can bring.