Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Small Saul


When you think of pirates, you think of fresh breath, a squeaky clean ship and lavender bunny tattoos, right? Yeah, me too. And yet the other pirates are completely dismissive of Small Saul - they feel he just doesn't fit in. Or could he?

More than anything, Small Saul loves the sea. After failing to meet the Navy's height requirement, SS turns to the only other profession he can think of that would allow him to spend his day on the open water: piracy. Because rough and tough does not come naturally to him, Saul struggles at Pirate College. His growl sounds more like a purr, he picks wildflowers while the others dig for treasure, and tidies when he should be looting.

Nevertheless, Saul squeaks through Pirate College and is lucky enough to nab a position aboard The Rusty Squid. Determined to fit in, Small Saul gets to work. I love the before and after of the sleeping quarters! He scrubs and straightens, adding pillows to the hammocks and tiny curtains over the windows in an attempt to make it more welcoming. The pirates are not impressed. Small Saul is cheerful and chipper, clean and comforting. He is pushed overboard. 
Without Small Saul aboard, the ship starts to stink. Mold grows on the deck, foul odors are afoot, and the crew is back to eating bread and gruel. The good ole pirate life doesn't see as attractive as it used to. The crew may be dirty and smelly, but they aren't stupid. They quickly turn The Rusty Squid around and scoop up their most valuable shipmate. And Small Saul returns to pirating the only way he knows how: by cleaning, baking and straightening. 

The entire concept and execution are fabulous. It's like Queer Eye for the Pirate Guy. There are tons of small details in the illustrations that crack me up: the funny looks the other pirates shoot Saul, the way he casually tosses a minty fresh breath mint into the captain's straggly toothed mouth, and his Big Book of Bunny Tattoos. Maybe best of all is the tiny frock he fashions for the seagull (from his head scarf) while he is waiting to be rescued. Saul has got to be Saul! And thank goodness for that.   

Review copy provided by Kids Can Press.  

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