Here’s the WSJ’s childrens book review from today. Thought it sounded cute!
Young children who love pirates—and parents who might relish reading aloud with swashbuckling gusto—are going to find “A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade” just their cup of grog.
The rollicking tale follows a boy as he embarks on his first day of school in the company of a ghostly crew of rowdy, swaggering pirates who are visible, of course, only to him. The boy himself sounds as if he has spent more time sailing under the Jolly Roger than chewing on Jolly Ranchers. “Arrr!” he says by way of introduction. “What a slobberin’ moist mornin’!” Licked awake by his “scurvy dog,” the boy leaps out of bed and gets himself shipshape. “Me mother was soggy with fare-thee-wells, fussing over this, that, and the other thing,” he tells us. “Fair winds!” he cries to her and sets off, his lunchbox carried by a wraithlike parrot.
After cheerfully boarding a big yellow school bus, the boy and his roistering comrades disembark at elementary school, where they meet the first-grade teacher, “a fine old salt” named Silver. School turns out to be jolly enough, but even pirates are apt to wilt under the workload: “I’ll make no bones about it,” the boy confides at one point, “Cap’n Silver worked us like black dogs on a hot day. We counted and spelled ’til we nearly dropped, brain-addled and weary.”
Greg Ruth’s retro illustrations for James Preller’s story adhere in a satisfying way to piratical convention—his buccaneers have flowing beards, eye patches and gnarly expressions—but he adds witty modern-day touches, too, like the vaporous juice box in one man’s hand. Children may quibble with a mildly didactic ending that shows the narrator finding “treasure” at the library, but that hardly sinks an otherwise lively read. —Meghan Cox Gurdon