Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Small Saul by Ashley Spires

There are quite a few atypical pirate stories, but Ashley Spire's picture book debut stands apart!

Saul is determined to have a career at sea, but he's too short for the Navy. "Fortunately, pirates aren't so picky, so he enrolled in Pirate College." Saul is delighted to finally graduate and even finds a ship that allows him to join their pirate crew, but his troubles aren't over yet. Small Saul's efforts to spruce up the ship, be tough, and find treasure end with him being popped overboard by an exasperated captain and crew. Happily for all concerned, the pirates realize they miss Small Saul (and his cooking and cleaning) after all and Small Saul finally finds his place aboard The Rusty Squid.

Spires' delightful sense of humor, already seen in her popular Binky the Space Cat graphic novels, shines here. Every page is full if hilarious details, from Small Saul's open-mouthed and wide-eyed enjoyment of his new experiences to the pirate's list of rules and classes at Pirate College. Spires' square-legged pirates, with villainous details (not to mention bad breath and poor spelling) march across the pages in panels and inset illustrations. The story is simple enough for preschoolers to follow with enough subtle humor for grade school students to giggle along.

Verdict: Even if you already have plenty of pirate stories, this funny story is a must add and will be popular with parents and children of all ages. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9781554535033; Published March 2011 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by the publisher through Raab Associates.

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