CM . . . .
Volume V Number 8 . . . . December 11, 1998
"Well shiver me timber and scuttle me board!Whatever You Do, Don't Go Near That Canoe! is a story in rhyme about two children who go off on a fantastic canoe trip to visit some pirates. It definitely must be read aloud to get the full flavour of the pirate speech with its sprinkling of made-up words and slightly off-kilter use of stereotypical pirate jargon.
An extremely sensitive child might find the meeting with the pirates too frightening, especially when it seems that the pirates plan to roast the children for taking the Captain's canoe. Most children enjoy being scared in this way, however, and it soon becomes obvious that the only things to be roasted are marshmallows and wieners.
Werner Zimmermann's watercolour illustrations add a great deal to the book. Those at the beginning and end evoke Julie Lawson's West Coast setting beautifully while the middle ones with the pirates are a suitably scary-humorous mix.
I have only one minor criticism of the text. It is not clear until page 13 that O'Malley is the stuffed kangaroo. To that point, I thought she was the narrator's brother because, on page 2, the text reads, "So off we went...my brother, O'Malley, and me."
Irene Gordon of Headingley, Manitoba, is a free-lance writer and former teacher-librarian who spent 14 years working in a junior high school library.
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