CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 37 . . . . May 27, 2011
Pirate Taz harbours many secrets. One surprise is that Taz is actually a girl in disguise. Yearning for a life of adventure, she proves to be a standout pirate. Unfortunately, she's not happy because "She didn't like being so mean all the time." Her real passion is for the performing arts. On lookout duty late at night, she dances and composes songs. Pirate Ivan catches her singing and tells the captain who, in turn, maroons her on a deserted island. This turn of events gives her plenty of time to hone her craft, but she is soon spotted by a rival pirate ship. They recognize the famous Pirate Taz and figure treasure must be close at hand. The captured Taz agrees to hand over the treasure map if they set her free. Meanwhile, Pirate Taz's old ship nears, and the two groups of pirates start to battle. Taz slips away unnoticed in a rowboat and goes on to celebrated success as a stage performer.
Pirate books are perennially popular, and this title offers some enjoyable twists. However, the pacing is often weighed down by lengthy over-explanations of the plot: "Pirate Taz revealed that the map was hidden in her hometown. Secretly there was no map. Her plan was to have this crew take her home so she could pursue her dreams."
Maia Desjardins' pencil crayon and watercolour illustrations show lots of pirate activity, from swabbing the deck to firing cannonballs. But, at times, the layout and design detract from the storytelling. Page breaks sometimes appear awkward as in the case of a sentence ending with a comma. Near the end of the book, one page has lots of text, and the facing page has only one sentence and no accompanying illustration and seems visually unbalanced.
When compared to other pirate picture books, The Secret of Pirate Taz is an additional purchase as it lacks the understated wit of Ashley Spires' Small Saul or the plucky charm of Phoebe Gilman's Pirate Pearl.
Recommended with reservations.
Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.