Friday, June 14, 2013

No Bath, No Cake! Polly's Pirate Party by Matthias Weinert, translated by David Henry Wilson

I am generally not a fan of pirates. I don't like pirate books for the same reason I don't read medieval romances; I simply can't suspend my disbelief. While everyone else is swooning over the romance, I'm thinking "OMG NO PLUMBING". I've read several histories of pirates and privateers and several books about modern-day pirates and a subject less-suited to a cute kids' book I cannot imagine.

However! Sometimes it really does work well and I have to put aside my prejudices. North-South is one of my favorite small publishers and this is a little gem of a book with a delightful translation.

Four pirates are excited to get an invitation to Polly's birthday party - but Pete the Parrot says they can't go until they take a bath, get some smart clothes, choose a suitable present (girls have to have cute dollies) and wrap it. Finally, they get to the party, only to be greeted by an infuriated Polly who invited pirates, not these strangers! and was hoping for a good present, not a stupid doll! Shortly afterward, Pete the Parrot is tied to the mast, the pirates are back in their comfortable clothes, and their original presents of a saber, cannon, rope, and a wooden leg are joyfully accepted. "It was a wonderful birthday party after all...and they had tons and tons of cake."

The illustrations are delightfully detailed with lots of humor and sly jokes. Most of them are presented as small cameos within the page, each illustrating the text below. The pirates' outrage as Pete forces them to bathe "No bath, no cake!" dress up, "No smarty, no party!" and purchase a suitable present is hilarious.

I read this to several 4k classes to test it out and I will admit that it's not an ideal read-aloud book for a large group. They did enjoy it - especially the scenes with the pirates in their underwear - but the pictures are really too detailed for group reading and would work best one-on-one. There were also gasps of horror at the use of the word "stupid" although the kids had no problem yelling "they're all fat!" when the pirates came out full of cake.

Verdict: While not the perfect storytime book, this is the perfect book for a silly read-aloud one-on-one or with a very small group that can get up close and see the details. Older children who can pick up on the humor will especially enjoy this title. I do occasionally buy titles that aren't storytime material and this one is definitely going on my order list.

ISBN: 9780735841123; Published 2012 by North-South; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library

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