Pirate Stew

Neil Gaiman, illus. by Chris Riddell. Quill Tree, $19.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-06-293-457-4

Babysitting two skeptical siblings, Long John McRon, Ship’s Cook, and his pirate crew concoct a buccaneer-pleasing repast: “Pirate Stew, Pirate Stew,/ eat it and you won’t be blue./ You can be a pirate too!” What could possibly go awry? With consummately inventive Newbery Medalist Gaiman at the helm, nothing short of boatloads. In rollicking verse, the rowdy chefs, elaborately costumed and coiffed in Riddell’s freewheeling illustrations, initially toss relatively tame ingredients into their golden cooking pot—“Start with onions, start with carrots./ Add the seeds that feeds the parrots./ Pulverized with heavy pestles, leeks are good (except in vessels)”—but the recipe becomes comically slapdash with the addition of gold doubloons, cannonballs, “a slice of plank for walking,/ and some extra Arrs for talking.” The whimsy takes further flight when Long John McRon pilots a post-supper journey to a doughnut shop after the children’s house morphs into an airborne pirate ship, and the longtime collaborators top off this delightful yarn with a wry parental twist. Ages 4–8. [em](Dec.) [/em]
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