Friday, May 14, 2010

The Pirate-Cruncher


If you have ever actively searched for a pirate book, then you have probably already discovered there really aren't that many good choices out there. This one has all the necessary elements that a really great pirate story demands. These pirates look like real pirates, (how my brain imagine they should look anyway) sporting big, bushy beards, missing a few nonessential body parts and overall looking quite sea-worn. They talk like real pirates, employing phrases like "me hearties" and "cowardly landlubbers" and they sing sea shanties.  Even the author's name - Jonny Duddle - sounds like a shipmate, doesn't it? 
The dastardly (good pirate names, too!) Captain Purplebeard and his cutthroat crew are throwing a few back at the Thirsty Parrot (see!) when a traveling fiddler appears, prattling on about an island of gold deep in the sea. Of course,this grabs the crew's attention and they start dreaming of diamonds, rubies and gold. If the pirates will provide the transportation, the bony fiddler will reveal his map and they will all share the bounty.  A deal is made!     

Once en route, the fiddler warns them that this island has a habit of vanishing and nobody has ever safely returned from a visit there. Nonsense! The pirates are undeterred.  They sail on a bit and the fiddler also thinks to mention there is monster than lurks about this island. This pirate cruncher eats up the pirates and then chews up their ships. Ooh, I think I see a tentacle rising up out of the sea, as a warning of what's ahead. Still, they press on. 

When the pirates reach their destination, they are elated to discover a chest filled with treasures beyond their wildest dreams. But, just like the fiddler warned, a pirate cruncher lurks below the surface.  No sooner do they reach the treasure chest, when CRUNCH.  And that it the end of the tale of Captain Purplebeard and his cutthroat crew. They were too darn greedy for their own good and would not heed the warnings of their fiddling friend. 

Obviously, the most amazing part of this book is the illustrations. They are much more vivid than they appear here, swirling and sloshing nearly off the pages. Near the end of the book, there is an extra large pull down page, which reveals the pirate cruncher lurking beneath the treasure. Very well done - excellent pirate-y details, great songs, fun story and a nice surprise ending (which I have just ruined for you).  Experience it first hand - you'll enjoy it very much.

Review copy provided by Candlewick Press.  

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