________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 30 . . . . April 8, 2011


Small Saul.

Ashley Spires.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2011.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-503-3.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Laura Dick.

***½ /4



Small Saul loved the sea. He loved its vastness, its calmness, its blueness.

He was meant to be on the water. Even as a child, he dreamed of a life at sea.

When he was old enough, Small Saul tried to become a sailor, but the Navy wouldn't have him.

Fortunately, pirates aren't so picky, so he enrolled in Pirate College.

Written and illustrated by Ashley Spires of Binky the Space Cat fame, Small Saul is the story of Saul, a would-be sailor who just doesn't quite make the grade. When the Navy turns him down because they claim he's just too small, Saul decides that Pirate College is the only way to go because they are just not as picky as the Navy.

      Upon graduation from Pirate College, Saul arrives at the dock, potted plant and suitcase in hand, eager to join his first pirate ship. Just when it looks like no one will take him on, Saul is welcomed aboard by the last remaining ship in port and off he goes to become a real pirate.

      It doesn't take long for his new shipmates find out that Saul is not a typical pirate at all. He is more concerned about redecorating the pirate ship and baking than with being rough and tough and pirate like. His crew mates are not too pleased with Saul's efforts and soon it's man overboard for him. internal art

      Illustrated by the author, the book's artwork is quirkily charming featuring shifty eyed pirates and a wide-eyed Saul. According to Spires, "The artwork in this book was rendered in ink, watercolor, water, flour, a cup of sugar, a dash of vanilla and baked at 350."

      In Small Saul, Spires has developed a completely sympathetic and very lovable main character who just wants to be himself. Readers will root for Saul as he begins to realize that, for the other pirates to accept him, maybe he needs to become more like them. For young readers who may face similar challenges how much do you compromise yourself to fit into the crowd? Small Saul will be a great choice. For youngsters who just like pirates and adventure stories, this is a sure hit as well.

Highly Recommended.

Laura Dick is trying to raise four teenagers while attempting to maintain her sanity. She escapes to work as a librarian at a mid-sized public library in Southwestern Ontario.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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