________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 2 . . . . September 17, 2004

cover Roger, the Jolly Pirate.

Brett Helquist.
New York, NY: HarperCollins (Distributed in Canada by HarperCollins Publishers Canada), 2004.
32 pp., cloth, $19.99.
ISBN 0-06-623805-6.

Subject Headings:
Humourous stories.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Catherine Hoyt.

**** /4


He smiled instead of scowling, and he grinned instead of growling. He always had a yarn to tell or a sea shanty to sing, and he had never struck fear in any sailor's heart. His shipmates called him Jolly Roger. They didn't mean it nicely.

internal artRoger was a failure as a pirate; he was just too nice. Roger's shipmates made fun of him and always sent him below deck when any real pirating was to be done. Roger's band of pirates was notorious on the high seas, and ships fled at the mere sight of them. Only the Admiral wasn't afraid of the scoundrels. On the day that the Admiral finally attacked the pirate ship, Roger was sent below as usual. Roger spent his time below trying to figure out a way to make the other pirates like him. Roger decided to bake a special cake and used the only "pot" he could find. Up on deck, the Admiral's men were winning the battle, and the future of the pirates and their ship looked bleak. Just as the pirate captain was about to surrender, Roger lit the wick attached to his pot and sat back to wait for the cake to bake. The explosion blew Roger straight through the deck and into the middle of the battle. The terrifying sight of Roger forced the Admiral and his men to abandon ship. Covered in flour and soot, Roger's ghostly appearance accidentally saved the day. Roger's grateful shipmates made a special flag in his honour, and that is how the skull and cross bones flag; the Jolly Roger came to be the symbol of pirate ships.

     Author/illustrator Brett Helquist is best known as the illustrator of Lemony Snicknet's "A Series of Unfortunate Events." This humourous treasure is the first book he has both written and illustrated. This is an excellent read aloud choice for children of all ages. Kids will identify with this underdog and delight in his victory. The colourful detailed illustrations are a perfect match for the story. This combination will have no trouble holding the attention of the intended audience. The pirates look suitably fierce without being too scary. As an added bonus, the words and music to the "Ballad of Jolly Roger" are included at the end of the story.

     Roger, the Jolly Pirate is a highly recommended purchase for school and public libraries. This rousing tale is a great gift choice for any young buccaneer.

Highly Recommended.

Catherine Hoyt is the Public Services Librarian for the York Library Region in Fredericton, NB.


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