August 21, 2017

Best Pirate

Written by Kari-Lynn Winters
Illustrated by Dean Griffiths
Pajama Press
978-1-77278-019-2
32 pp.
Ages 5-8
For release September, 2017

First she was a Bad Pirate (2015) and then she was a Good Pirate (2016) but now Augusta, daughter of Captain Barnacle Garrick, is on her way to becoming an even better pirate. That is, until she burns a hole in her father's treasure map, the one that would lead them to the same treasure the Tuna Lubbers (i.e., cats) were on their way to grab on Crossbones Island.
From Best Pirate 
by Kari-Lynn Winters 
illus. by Dean Griffiths
Scully who is supposed to retrieve the treasure is sure he can help her become that better pirate.  So he works her at being crafty and nimble and fearless.  But when she drops a cannonball on his one good foot, his treasure-seeking mission is thwarted.  Augusta is determined to make things right and heads off to the island herself.

On the island, she encounters a cat pirate just as they both fall into the pit harbouring the treasure.  As they argue over whose booty it is, they realize they have to get out first.  Scuppers is afraid–he truly is a scaredy cat–but Augusta turns on her craftiness and gets Scuppers to help her jam swords and daggers into the pit's walls.  Turning on her nimbleness, she scampers up the walls using the swords as footholds.  And when a dagger comes away and Scuppers is in danger, she sets aside her fear and reaches out a paw and saves him.  
From Best Pirate 
by Kari-Lynn Winters 
illus. by Dean Griffiths
Though Scuppers recognizes Augusta as the best pirate, deserving of the treasure, she acknowledges their teamwork as leading to their success and insists they split the booty.
From Best Pirate 
by Kari-Lynn Winters 
illus. by Dean Griffiths
Too bad that Augusta doesn't get the credit from her father for finding the treasure–he believes Scully actually retrieved it–and lauded as a hero as Scuppers is by his father and the crew of the Tuna Lubbers.  Captain Barnacle still doesn't get how accomplished his daughter is at being a pirate, though Scully, Squid and Bones and Scuppers acknowledge this readily.  Readers will certainly learn a lesson from Augusta and Kari-Lynn Winters about determination and fulfilment that comes from success without the need for accolades.  She may be a dog but she's a gutsy lassy.

Dean Griffiths, who illustrated Kari-Lynn Winters' earlier Pirate books, continues to endow the story with colour richness and opulent textures from another time, just like the recurring yellow parchment backgrounds and scroll banners. And you can almost feel the movement of the sea and smell the saltiness of the air.  Even the lushness of the island's vegetation is palpable. Of course, young readers will love the dogs and cats of all species with their distinguishing features of fur and shape as well as the wide array of their expressions: friendliness,  fear, surprise, dismay, anger.

Aye, blow me down but Best Pirate is a treasure of a fine tale for pirate lovers on both sea and land.

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